Picture span test: Measuring visual working memory capacity involved in remembering and comprehension

Azumi Tanabe, Naoyuki Osaka

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

8 Citations (Scopus)


The working memory system is assumed to operate with domain-specific (verbal and visuospatial) resources that support cognitive activities. However, in research on visuospatial working memory, an appropriate visual working memory task has not been established. For the present study, a novel task was developed: the picture span test (PST). This test requires memorizing parts of scene images while comprehending various scene situations simultaneously. Results of correlation analyses and a factor analysis among college students (n = 52) validated that PST can predict visuospatial cognitive skills whereas a simple visual storage task and a verbal working memory task cannot. Furthermore, an error analysis indicated that inhibition is important for visuospatial working memory. Additionally, PST is considered to reflect individual differences in the visual working memory capacity. These findings suggest that the PST is appropriate for measuring visual working memory capacity and can elucidate its relationship to higher cognition.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)309-317
Number of pages9
JournalBehavior Research Methods
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2009 May
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)
  • Psychology (miscellaneous)
  • Psychology(all)


Dive into the research topics of 'Picture span test: Measuring visual working memory capacity involved in remembering and comprehension'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this