(Working) Memory (Janczyk and Liesefeld)

Our memory-psychological work concerns selection processes in working memory as well as knowledge retrieval from long-term memory.

(Visual) Working memory

Working memory is a key component of human cognition and recent years have witnessed most extensive empirical, theoretical, and methodological progress in the visual domain. One central question in models of visual working memory (VWM) is how certain, already encoded, VWM contents are selected and what happens to them when they are no longer relevant. For example, Markus Janczyk has investigated the extent to which selection is bound to limited resources and to what extent later cues (so-called retro cues) still favor selection in VWM. Heinrich Liesefeld is interested in how priority-map mechanisms (including object saliency) influences VWM (encoding) and how this precious limited storage space can be kept free of irrelevant (distracting) information (see Research – Visual attention for further details).

Representative publications:

Constant, M., & Liesefeld, H.R. (2021). Massive effects of saliency on information processing in visual working memory. Psychological Science.

Liesefeld, H.R., Liesefeld, A.M., Sauseng, P., Jacob, S.N., & Müller, H.J. (2020). How visual working memory handles distraction: Cognitive mechanisms and electrophysiological correlates. Visual Cognition, 28, 372-387.

Liesefeld, H.R., & Müller, H.J. (2019). Current directions in visual working memory research: An introduction and emerging insights. British Journal of Psychology, 110, 193-206. [Editorial for Special Issue Current directions in visual working memory research].

Janczyk, M. (2017). A common capacity limitation for response and item selection in working memory. Journal of Experimental Psychology: Learning, Memory, and Cognition, 43, 1690-1698.

Gressmann, M., & Janczyk, M. (2016). The (un)clear case of invalid retro-cues. Frontiers in Psychology, 7, 244.

Janczyk, M. & Berryhill, M.E. (2014). Orienting attention in visual working memory requires central capacity: Decreased retro-cue effects under dual-task conditions. Attention, Perception, & Psychophysics. 76, 715-724.

Liesefeld, A.M.*, Liesefeld, H.R.*, & Zimmer, H.D. (2014). Intercommunication between prefrontal and posterior brain regions for protecting visual working memory from distractor interference. Psychological Science, 25, 325-333.

Janczyk, M., Schöler, H. & Grabowski, J. (2004). Arbeitsgedächtnis und Aufmerksamkeit bei Vorschulkindern mit gestörter und unauffälliger Sprachentwicklung. Zeitschrift für Entwicklungspsychologie und Pädagogische Psychologie, 36, 200-206.

Knowledge retrieval and language modality

In the context of e.g. tests or eyewitness reports, speech production is used as a window to a person's knowledge. In general, however, answers or statements can be given orally or in writing, and the question arises as to the equivalence of both modalities with regard to the validity of the knowledge acquisition. Based on theoretical assumptions that speak in favor of the written modality, we have begun to systematically examine this question. This work will be done in cooperation with Prof. Dr. med. Joachim Grabowski (Hannover).


Janczyk, M., Aßmann, M., & Grabowski, J. (2018). Oral vs. written recall of long-term memory items: Replicating and extending the Writing Superiority Effect across knowledge domains. American Journal of Psychology, 131, 263-272.