Abstract

Objective: Evidence suggests that executive functioning (EF) plays a role in encoding and retrieval of visuospatial information. Several studies have used the Rey Osterrieth Complex Figure Test (ROCFT) to demonstrate a relation between the organizational approach used for the copy (encoding) trial and memory for the stimulus after a short and long delay. This study extends the understanding of the link between EF and visuospatial memory by examining the differential contribution of specific EF sub-processes to ROCFT immediate recall (IR) and delayed recall (DR). Method: A comprehensive battery of EF measures and the ROCFT were administered to a diverse group of healthy adults (n = 111). EF sub-processes were identified using exploratory factor analysis, which derived a 4-factor solution from 10 EF variables: Executive Control/Shifting, Working Memory, Inhibition, and Planning (accounting for 67% of the variance). Results: Correlational analyses between EF factor composite scores and ROCFT recall measures found significant associations between Executive Control/Shifting and ROCFT IR (r = .27, p < .01), Executive Control/Shifting and ROCFT DR (r = .29, p < .01), and Working Memory and ROCFT DR (r = .20, p < .05). Mediation analysis revealed the relation between Executive Control/Shifting and ROCFT IR was partially mediated by ROCFT copy performance (β = .09, p < .05), as was the relation between Executive Control/Shifting and ROCFT DR (β = .10, p < .05). However ROCFT copy did not mediate the relation between Working Memory and ROCFT DR. Conclusion(s): In neurologically normal adults, top-down executive control processes influence ROCFT immediate and delayed visuospatial memory both directly, and indirectly by affecting encoding. However, working memory only influences ROCFT delayed recall directly.