Academic journal article Canadian Journal of Experimental Psychology

Effects of Bilingualism, Aging, and Semantic Relatedness on Memory under Divided Attention

Academic journal article Canadian Journal of Experimental Psychology

Effects of Bilingualism, Aging, and Semantic Relatedness on Memory under Divided Attention

Article excerpt

Abstract

We examined how encoding and retrieval processes were affected by manipulations of attention, and whether the degree of semantic relatedness between words in the memory and distracting task modulated these effects. We also considered age and bilingual status as mediating factors. Monolingual and bilingual younger and older adults studied a list of words from a single semantic category presented auditorily, and later free recalled them aloud. During either study or retrieval, participants concurrently performed a distracting task requiring size decisions to words from either the same or a different semantic category as the words in the memory task. The greatest disruptions of memory from divided attention (DA) were for encoding rather than retrieval. The effect of semantic relatedness was significant only for DA at encoding. Older age and bilingualism were associated with lower recall scores in all conditions, but these factors did not influence the magnitude of memory interference. The results suggest that encoding is more sensitive to semantic similarity in a distracting task than is retrieval. The role of attention at encoding and retrieval is discussed.

Résumé Nous avons examiné comment les processus d'encodage et de récupération étaient influencés par les manipulations de l'attention et si le niveau de relation sémantique entre les mots en mémoire et la tâche de distraction modulait ces effets. Nous avons également considéré l'âge et le bilinguisme comme des facteurs médiateurs. Des adultes plus jeunes et plus âgés unilingues et bilingues ont étudié une liste de mots d'une seule catégorie sémantique présentée de façon auditive et les ont prononcés plus tard à haute voix. Pendant la période d'étude ou de récupération, les participants ont exécuté en même temps une tâche de distraction demandant que les décisions de taille par rapport aux mots soit de la même catégorie sémantique ou d'une catégorie différente que les mots dans la tâche de mémoire. Les désordres les plus grands de la mémoire causés par l'attention divisée (AD) étaient pour l'encodage plutôt que la récupération. L'effet de la relation sémantique était important seulement pour l'AD à l'encodage. L'âge plus avancé et le bilinguisme étaient associés à des évaluations de rappel plus faibles dans toutes les conditions, mais ces facteurs n'influençaient pas l'importance de l'interférence de la mémoire. Les résultats suggèrent que l'encodage est plus sensible que la récupération à la sensibilité sémantique dans une tâche de distraction. Le rôle de l'attention à l'encodage et la récupération fait l'objet de discussions.

Recent studies of bilingualism have shown that bilingual children and adults demonstrate enhanced attentional control in a variety of tasks involving perceptual or response conflict (Bialystok, 2001; Bialystok, Craik, Klein, & Viswanathan, 2004). This bilingual processing advantage is not confined to linguistic tasks but has been found in a variety of simple experimental paradigms such as the dimensional change card sort task (Bialystok & Martin, 2004), the ability to see the alternate image in a reversible figure (Bialystok & Shapero, 2005), and the Simon task (Bialystok et al., 2004). In a typical Simon task, coloured patches are presented to the right or left of a screen, above right and left response keys. The experimental rule may be "if the patch is red press left, if green press right," and the stimulus patch is then presented either above the appropriate key (congruent response) or the inappropriate key (incongruent response). The general finding is that incongruent stimulus-response pairs are associated with longer response times than congruent pairs (the "Simon effect"), and it is argued that smaller Simon effect values indicate better cognitive control (Lu & Proctor, 1995). The finding that bilingual children (Martin-Rhee & Bialystok, submitted) and adults (Bialystok et al., 2004) have smaller Simon effects than their monolingual peers has thus been taken as evidence that bilingualism induces the development and maintenance of more efficient attentional control. …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.