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ERIC Number: EJ1008662
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2013-Jan
Pages: 13
Abstractor: As Provided
Reference Count: 66
ISBN: N/A
ISSN: ISSN-0278-7393
Interference within the Focus of Attention: Working Memory Tasks Reflect More than Temporary Maintenance
Shipstead, Zach; Engle, Randall W.
Journal of Experimental Psychology: Learning, Memory, and Cognition, v39 n1 p277-289 Jan 2013
One approach to understanding working memory (WM) holds that individual differences in WM capacity arise from the amount of information a person can store in WM over short periods of time. This view is especially prevalent in WM research conducted with the visual arrays task. Within this tradition, many researchers have concluded that the average person can maintain approximately 4 items in WM. The present study challenges this interpretation by demonstrating that performance on the visual arrays task is subject to time-related factors that are associated with retrieval from long-term memory. Experiment 1 demonstrates that memory for an array does not decay as a product of absolute time, which is consistent with both maintenance- and retrieval-based explanations of visual arrays performance. Experiment 2 introduced a manipulation of temporal discriminability by varying the relative spacing of trials in time. We found that memory for a target array was significantly influenced by its temporal compression with, or isolation from, a preceding trial. Subsequent experiments extend these effects to sub-capacity set sizes and demonstrate that changes in the size of k are meaningful to prediction of performance on other measures of WM capacity as well as general fluid intelligence. We conclude that performance on the visual arrays task does not reflect a multi-item storage system but instead measures a person's ability to accurately retrieve information in the face of proactive interference. (Contains 2 figures, 7 tables and 6 footnotes.)
American Psychological Association. Journals Department, 750 First Street NE, Washington, DC 20002-4242. Tel: 800-374-2721; Tel: 202-336-5510; Fax: 202-336-5502; e-mail: order@apa.org; Web site: http://www.apa.org/publications
Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Research
Education Level: N/A
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A