Chatting while walking does not interfere with topographical working memory

Laura Piccardi, Alessia Bocchi, Massimiliano Palmiero, Maddalena Boccia, Simonetta D’amico, Raffaella Nori

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


In the present study, we employed the dual task technique to explore the role of language in topographical working memory when landmarks are present along the path. We performed three experiments to mainly test the effects of language but also motor, spatial motor and spatial environment interferences on topographical working memory. We aimed to clarify both the role of language in navigational working memory per se and the extent to which spatial language interferes with the main task more than the other types of interference. Specifically, in the three experiments we investigated the differences due to different verbal interference sources (i.e., articulatory suppression of nonsense syllables; right and left, up and bottom; and north, south, east and west). The main hypothesis was that the use of spatial language affected more landmark-based topographical working memory than both the verbalization of nonsense syllables and other types of interference. Results show no effect of spatial language, only spatial environmental interference affected the navigational working memory performance. In general, this might depend on the scarce role of spatial language in online navigational working memory tasks. Specifically, language is more important for learning and retrieval of the cognitive map. Implications and future research directions are discussed.

Original languageEnglish
Article number811
Pages (from-to)1-12
Number of pages12
JournalBrain Sciences
Issue number11
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2020


  • Frame of reference
  • Gender
  • Interference
  • Navigation
  • Orientation
  • Spatial
  • Working memory

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuroscience(all)


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