Spatial relations can be represented categorically, by means of abstract labels, or coordinately, in metric, absolute measures. These representations have been associated to the left and the right hemispheres respectively (Kosslyn, 1987). Recent studies have focused on the temporal dynamics of spatial relation processing, with working memory task designs. In this light, we examined the suggested lateralization effect in an ERP study incorporating a visual half field match-to-sample design, in which two sequentially presented stimuli were compared. By manipulating the length of the retention intervals between the two stimuli (500. ms, 2000. ms, and 5000. ms), spatial working memory effects were studied at three separate stages of working memory; encoding, memorization, and retrieval. The hypothesized interaction of instruction and visual field was found in the behavioural data, restricted to the 2000. ms retention interval. The EEG data indicate a strong overall right hemisphere effect, which is likely related to spatial working memory in general. Categorical and coordinate processing appears to already differentiate during the encoding stage in the P300 complex (300-500. ms after presentation of the first stimulus), where instruction interacts significantly with hemisphere in the parietal area. We found a clear right hemisphere advantage for coordinate processing and no lateralization for categorical processing. We argue that the outcome indicates qualitative rather than quantitative differences between categorical and coordinate processing.

Additional Metadata
Keywords Categorical and coordinate spatial relations, ERP, Lateralization, Retention interval, Visual half field, Working memory
Persistent URL,
Journal International Journal of Psychophysiology
van der Ham, I.J.M, van Strien, J.W, Oleksiak, A, Wezel, R.J.A, & Postma, A. (2010). Temporal characteristics of working memory for spatial relations: An ERP study. International Journal of Psychophysiology, 77(2), 83–94. doi:10.1016/j.ijpsycho.2010.04.008