1 Department of Psychology, Renmin University of China; The State Ethnic Affairs Commission Key Research Center for Language, Cultural, and Psychology; Key Research Center for National Psychology and Education, the National Education Development Center of the Ministry of Education, Beijing 100872, China 2 Education Science Institute, Hulunbuir University, Hailar, Inner Mongolia, 021008, China 3 Orunchun National Research Center, Alihe, Inner Mongolia, 165400, China
Working memory refers to a system of temporary holding and manipulation of information during the performance of a range of cognitive tasks, such as comprehension, learning, and reasoning. According to Baddeley (1974), the architecture of working memory comprises four separated components, namely, phonological loop, visual-spatial working memory, central executive, and episodic buffer. The visual-spatial working memory is involved in the temporary retention of visual-spatial information.
The Oroqen is one of the oldest ethnic groups in northeast China. Most Oroqens live in the Oroqen Autonomous Banner in the Greater Hinggan Mountains. The area is bestowed with rich resources with a variety of wild animals. For generations, the Oroqens lived a life of hunting and fishing in the forests. They went on hunting expeditions in groups. Researchers explored the ecological environment and mode of production that affected the performance of cognition. The present study aims to explore whether the natural environment, which has formed the Oroqen’s hunting culture and hunting-gathering stage of economic production, affects their visual-spatial working memory.
In Experiment 1, four experiments were conducted to investigate the effect of the ecological environment and mode of production on the visuospatial working memory Oroqens. Oroqen (n = 32) and Han (n = 30) high school students performed simple storage and complex visual-spatial span tasks. Simple storage tasks were distinguished into three presentation formats: (i) visual, which involved maintaining irregular figures; (ii) spatial-sequential, which involved maintaining sequentially-presented locations; and (iii) spatial-simultaneous, which involved maintaining patterns of locations. The results proved that Oroqens performed significantly better than Hans in all the four visual-spatial working memory tasks.
In Experiment 2, the Corsi block test presented in a computer was employed to investigate whether the structural, quantitative, and path complexity influenced the visual-spatial working memory of Oroqen (n = 30) and Han (n = 30) students. Results showed that superiority of the Oroqen on visual-spatial working memory still persisted when the memory materials differ in terms of difficulty.
In summary, the ecological environment and mode of production have a significant impact on visual-spatial working memory. The Oroqen people’s ecological environment and traditional mode of production have become a genetic factor that may affect the visual-spatial working memory of their offspring.
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