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ERIC Number: EJ952439
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2011-Nov
Pages: 19
Abstractor: As Provided
Reference Count: 59
ISSN: ISSN-0278-7393
Can the Focus of Attention Accommodate Multiple, Separate Items?
Gilchrist, Amanda L.; Cowan, Nelson
Journal of Experimental Psychology: Learning, Memory, and Cognition, v37 n6 p1484-1502 Nov 2011
Researchers of working memory currently debate capacity limits of the focus of attention, the proposed mental faculty in which items are most easily accessed. Cowan (1999) suggested that its capacity is about 4 chunks, whereas others have suggested that its capacity is only 1 chunk. Recently, Oberauer and Bialkova (2009) found evidence that 2 items could reside in the focus of attention, but only because they were combined into a single chunk. We modified their experimental procedure, which depends on a pattern of switch costs, to obtain a situation in which chunking was not likely to occur (i.e., each item remained a separate chunk) and still obtained results consistent with a capacity of at least 2 items. Therefore, either the focus of attention can hold multiple chunks or the switch cost logic must be reconsidered. (Contains 2 tables and 10 figures.)
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:; Web site:
Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Research
Education Level: Higher Education; Postsecondary Education
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Identifiers - Location: Missouri