An n-back task using vibrotactile stimulation with comparison to an auditory analogue.

Date of Original Version




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Abstract or Description

We report a vibrotactile version of the common n-back task used to study working memory. Subjects wore vibrotactile stimulators on three fingers of one hand, and they responded by pressing a button with the other hand whenever the current finger matched the one stimulated n items back. Experiment 1 showed a steep decline in performance as n increased from 1 to 3; each additional level ofn decreased performance by 1.5 d' units on average. Experiment 2 supported a central capacity locus for the vibrotactile task by showing that it correlated strongly with an auditory analogue; both tasks were also related to standard digit span. The vibrotactile version of n-back may be particularly useful in dual-task contexts. It allows the assessment of cognitive capacity in sensory-impaired populations in which touch remains intact, and it may find use in brain-imaging studies in which vibrotactile stimuli impose a memory load.




Published In

Behavior Research Methods, 40, 1, 367-372.