Working memory load can both improve and impair selective attention: Evidence from the Navon paradigm.

Ahmed, Lubna and de Fockert, Jan W (2012) Working memory load can both improve and impair selective attention: Evidence from the Navon paradigm. Attention, perception & Psychophysics, 74 (7). pp. 1397-1405. ISSN 1943-3921

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Official URL: http://dx.doi.org/10.3758/s13414-012-0357-1

Abstract

Selective attention to relevant targets has been shown to depend on the availability of working memory (WM). Under conditions of high WM load, processing of irrelevant distractors is enhanced. Here we showed that this detrimental effect of WM load on selective attention efficiency is reversed when the task requires global- rather than local-level processing. Participants were asked to attend to either the local or the global level of a hierarchical Navon stimulus while keeping either a low or a high load in WM. In line with previous findings, during attention to the local level, distractors at the global level produced more interference under high than under low WM load. By contrast, loading WM had the opposite effect of improving selective attention during attention to the global level. The findings demonstrate that the impact of WM load on selective attention is not invariant, but rather is dependent on the level of the to-be-attended information.

Item Type: Journal Article
Uncontrolled Keywords: Working memory; Selective attention; Cognitive and attentional control
Subjects: 100 Philosophy & psychology > 150 Psychology
100 Philosophy & psychology > 153 Mental processes & intelligence
School/Department: School of Management and Social Sciences
Depositing User: Frank Quick
Date Deposited: 16 Nov 2012 12:33
Last Modified: 16 Nov 2012 12:33
URI: http://research.stmarys.ac.uk/id/eprint/291

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