Self-reported strategy use in working memory tasks

Liisa Ritakallio*, Daniel Fellman, Juha Salmi, Jussi Jylkkä, Matti Laine

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

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Mnemonic strategies can facilitate working memory performance, but our knowledge on strategy use as a function of task characteristics remains limited. We examined self-reported strategy use in several working memory tasks with pretest data from two large-scale online training experiments. A three-level measure of strategy sophistication (no strategy, maintenance, manipulation) was coded based on participants’ open-ended strategy reports. A considerable portion of participants reported some memory strategy, and strategy sophistication was associated with objective task performance. We found a consistent effect of stimulus type: verbal stimuli (letters or digits) elicited higher strategy sophistication than nonverbal ones (colours or spatial positions). In contrast, the association between task paradigm and strategy sophistication was less consistent in the two experiments. The present results highlight the importance of self-generated strategies in understanding individual differences in working memory performance and the role of stimulus characteristics as one of the task-related determinants of strategy use.

Original languageEnglish
Article number4893
Pages (from-to)1-16
Number of pages16
JournalScientific Reports
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2024
MoE publication typeA1 Journal article-refereed


  • Mnemonics
  • Stimulus type
  • Strategy
  • Task paradigm
  • Working memory


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