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Concurrent working memory load can facilitate selective attention: evidence for specialized load.

Authors
Type
Published Article
Journal
Journal of experimental psychology. Human perception and performance
Publication Date
Volume
33
Issue
5
Pages
1062–1075
Identifiers
PMID: 17924807
Source
Medline
License
Unknown

Abstract

Load theory predicts that concurrent working memory load impairs selective attention and increases distractor interference (N. Lavie, A. Hirst, J. W. de Fockert, & E. Viding). Here, the authors present new evidence that the type of concurrent working memory load determines whether load impairs selective attention or not. Working memory load was paired with a same/different matching task that required focusing on targets while ignoring distractors. When working memory items shared the same limited-capacity processing mechanisms with targets in the matching task, distractor interference increased. However, when working memory items shared processing with distractors in the matching task, distractor interference decreased, facilitating target selection. A specialized load account is proposed to describe the dissociable effects of working memory load on selective processing depending on whether the load overlaps with targets or with distractors.

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