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Impact of memory load on processing diminishes rapidly during retention in a complex span paradigm

Joseph, Tanya N. ORCID: and Morey, Candice C. ORCID: 2021. Impact of memory load on processing diminishes rapidly during retention in a complex span paradigm. Journal of Experimental Psychology: Learning, Memory, and Cognition 48 (10) , pp. 1400-1419. 10.1037/xlm0001061

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Previous work with complex memory span tasks, in which simple choice decisions are imposed between presentations of to-be-remembered items, shows that these secondary tasks reduce memory span. It is less clear how reconfiguring and maintaining various amounts of information affects decision speeds. We introduced preliminary “lead-in” decisions and postencoding “lead-out” decisions to isolate potential influences of reconfiguration and maintenance on decision speeds. Compared with preliminary lead-in choice responses, the response associated with the first memory item slowed substantially. As the list accumulated, decision responses slowed even more. After presentation of the list was complete, decision responses sped rapidly: within a few seconds, decisions were at least as fast as when remembering a single item. These patterns appeared consistently regardless of differences in list length (4, 5, 6, or 7 to-be-remembered items) and response mode (spoken, selection via mouse). This pattern of findings is inconsistent with the idea that merely holding information in mind conflicts with attention-demanding decision tasks. Instead, it is likely that reconfiguring memory items for responding is the source of conflict between memory and processing in complex span tasks.

Item Type: Article
Date Type: Publication
Status: Published
Schools: Psychology
Publisher: American Psychological Association
ISSN: 0278-7393
Date of First Compliant Deposit: 17 May 2021
Date of Acceptance: 16 May 2021
Last Modified: 08 Dec 2022 16:43

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