Stressing the mind: The effect of cognitive load and articulatory suppression on attentional guidance from working memory

Abstract

Four experiments explored the effect of cognitive load on the time course of top-down guidance of attention from working memory (WM). Observers had to search for a target presented among several distractors, with the target and distractor stimuli embedded inside different objects. On half of the trials, one of the distractor objects was cued by a matching item held in WM. When a single item was maintained in memory, search performance was impaired relative to a neutral baseline, where the memory and search displays did not match. These effects of WM on subsequent search were reduced by including a verbal suppression task during the WM and search displays, and by varying the WM load. The degree of competition for resources in WM is a key factor in determining the time course and magnitude of the interaction between WM and visual selection.

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Correspondence to David Soto.

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This work was supported by grants from the British Academy, the BBSRC, and the MRC (U.K.).

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Soto, D., Humphreys, G.W. Stressing the mind: The effect of cognitive load and articulatory suppression on attentional guidance from working memory. Perception & Psychophysics 70, 924–934 (2008). https://doi.org/10.3758/PP.70.5.924

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Keywords

  • Cognitive Load
  • Search Task
  • Work Memory
  • Work Memory Load
  • Articulatory Suppression