Visual Selective Attention Is Equally Functional for Individuals with Low and High Working Memory Capacity: Evidence from Accuracy and Eye Movements

By Mall, Jonathan T.; Morey, Candice C. et al. | Attention, Perception and Psychophysics, October 2014 | Go to article overview

Visual Selective Attention Is Equally Functional for Individuals with Low and High Working Memory Capacity: Evidence from Accuracy and Eye Movements


Mall, Jonathan T., Morey, Candice C., Wolff, Michael J., Lehnert, Franziska, Attention, Perception and Psychophysics


Published online: 9 January 2014

# Psychonomic Society, Inc. 2014

Abstract Selective attention and working memory capacity (WMC) are related constructs, but debate about the manner in which they are related remains active. One elegant explanation of variance in WMC is that the efficiency of filtering irrelevant information is the crucial determining factor, rather than differences in capacity per se. We examined this hypothesis by relating WMC (as measured by complex span tasks) to accuracy and eye movements during visual change detection tasks with different degrees of attentional filtering and allocation requirements. Our results did not indicate strong filtering differences between high- and low-WMC groups, and where differences were observed, they were counter to those predicted by the strongest attentional filtering hypothesis. Bayes factors indicated evidence favoring positive or null relationships between WMC and correct responses to unemphasized information, as well as between WMC and the time spent looking at unemphasized information. These findings are consistent with the hypothesis that individual differences in storage capacity, not only filtering efficiency, underlie individual differences in working memory.

Keywords Attentional control . Eye movementsWorking memory . Visual short-term memory . Individual differences

Workingmemorycapacity(WMC),theabilitytoconcurrently store and process information, is strongly correlated with performance on a large range of cognitive tasks (Hutchison, 2007; Jarrold & Towse, 2006; Unsworth, Schrock, & Engle, 2004), scholastic achievements (Alloway, 2009), and com- mon cognitive failures (Unsworth, Brewer, & Spillers, 2012). Several hypotheses have been put forward to explain these relationships. Some have emphasized individual differ- ences in attentional abilities (Engle, Kane, & Tuholski, 1999; Kane, Conway, Hambrick, & Engle, 2007;Kaneetal.,2004), whereas others have emphasized individual differences in storage capacity (Chuderski, Taraday, Necka, & Smolen, 2012; Colom, Abad, Quiroga, Shih, & Flores-Mendoza, 2008; Cowan et al., 2005). Both types of theory aim to explain individual differences in a number of key phenomena in selective attention.

A compelling illustration of relationships between in- dividual differences in WMC and selective attention oc- curs in the cocktail party effect, or noticing one'sown name in a nearby conversation while engaged in a differ- ent conversation. Conway, Cowan, and Bunting (2001) had participants perform a dichotic listening task in which different streams of words were presented to each ear and the relevant stream had to be repeated aloud. Low-WMC individuals were found to notice their own name in the irrelevant stream much more frequently than high-WMC individuals, indicating a possible deficit in selective at- tention (Conway et al., 2001). When participants were asked instead to divide their attention between two streams and report immediately when they noticed their own name, high-WMC individuals reported hearing their own name more often than did low-WMC individuals, demonstrating that high WMC affords the flexibility either to focus attention to the exclusion of irrelevant information or, instead, to effectively divide attention between two relevant sources (Colflesh & Conway, 2007). High-WMC individuals thus seemed able to flex- ibly ignore irrelevant information or divide their attention between multiple sources of information, depending on what the situation called for.

However, relationships between effective selective at- tention and WMC are not always apparent in situations designed to evoke them, suggesting that boundary condi- tions for relationships between WMC and selective atten- tion still need to be clarified. For instance, irrelevant speech effects, the decline in memory performance when listening to irrelevant auditory stimuli, do not show con- sistent relationships with WMC as one might expect. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA 8, MLA 7, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Note: primary sources have slightly different requirements for citation. Please see these guidelines for more information.

Cited article

Visual Selective Attention Is Equally Functional for Individuals with Low and High Working Memory Capacity: Evidence from Accuracy and Eye Movements
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Help
Full screen
Items saved from this article
  • Highlights & Notes
  • Citations
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA 8, MLA 7, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    Buy instant access to save your work.

    Already a member? Log in now.

    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.