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Serial and parallel processes in working memory after practice


Oberauer, Klaus; Bialkova, S (2011). Serial and parallel processes in working memory after practice. Journal of Experimental Psychology: Human Perception and Performance, 37(2):606-614.

Abstract

Six young adults practiced for 36 sessions on a working-memory updating task in which 2 digits and 2 spatial positions were continuously updated. Participants either did 1 updating operation at a time, or attempted 1 numerical and 1 spatial operation at the same time. In contrast to previous research using the same paradigm with a single digit and a single dot, dual-task costs were not eliminated with practice. Costs of switching between digits and between spatial positions were found throughout practice, supporting the existence of a focus of attention in working memory that can hold 1 digit and 1 spatial position simultaneously, but is not expanded to hold 2 elements of the same kind. The results can be understood by assuming that observed limits on parallel processing, as well as on the capacity of the focus of attention, arise not from structural constraints but rather reflect the optimal configuration of the cognitive system for avoiding information cross-talk in a given task.

Six young adults practiced for 36 sessions on a working-memory updating task in which 2 digits and 2 spatial positions were continuously updated. Participants either did 1 updating operation at a time, or attempted 1 numerical and 1 spatial operation at the same time. In contrast to previous research using the same paradigm with a single digit and a single dot, dual-task costs were not eliminated with practice. Costs of switching between digits and between spatial positions were found throughout practice, supporting the existence of a focus of attention in working memory that can hold 1 digit and 1 spatial position simultaneously, but is not expanded to hold 2 elements of the same kind. The results can be understood by assuming that observed limits on parallel processing, as well as on the capacity of the focus of attention, arise not from structural constraints but rather reflect the optimal configuration of the cognitive system for avoiding information cross-talk in a given task.

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14 citations in Web of Science®
12 citations in Scopus®
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Additional indexing

Item Type:Journal Article, refereed, original work
Communities & Collections:06 Faculty of Arts > Institute of Psychology
Dewey Decimal Classification:150 Psychology
Uncontrolled Keywords:working memory, focus of attention, switching, updating, practice
Language:English
Date:2011
Deposited On:29 Jun 2011 14:01
Last Modified:05 Apr 2016 14:56
Publisher:American Psychological Association
ISSN:0096-1523
Publisher DOI:https://doi.org/10.1037/a0020986
PubMed ID:21463089
Permanent URL: https://doi.org/10.5167/uzh-48581

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