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Is the focus of attention in working memory expanded through practice?


Oberauer, Klaus (2006). Is the focus of attention in working memory expanded through practice? Journal of Experimental Psychology: Learning, Memory, and Cognition, 32(2):197-214.

Abstract

This article reinvestigates the claim by P. Verhaeghen, J. Cerella, and C. Basak (2004) that the focus of attention in working memory can be expanded from 1 to 4 items through practice. Using a modified version of Verhaeghen et al.'s n-back paradigm, Experiments 1 and 3 show that a signature of a one-item focus, the time cost for switching between items in working memory, persists over practice. Verhaeghen et al. reported a shift over practice from a step function to a linear slope of reaction times over set size and argued that it reflects the expansion of the focus. With an improved counterbalancing scheme, a continuously increasing slope was found even without practice in Experiment 2. The results question the hypothesis that the focus is expanded through practice. They are in line with predictions from a model that distinguishes a one-item focus from a direct-access region holding about 4 items.

Abstract

This article reinvestigates the claim by P. Verhaeghen, J. Cerella, and C. Basak (2004) that the focus of attention in working memory can be expanded from 1 to 4 items through practice. Using a modified version of Verhaeghen et al.'s n-back paradigm, Experiments 1 and 3 show that a signature of a one-item focus, the time cost for switching between items in working memory, persists over practice. Verhaeghen et al. reported a shift over practice from a step function to a linear slope of reaction times over set size and argued that it reflects the expansion of the focus. With an improved counterbalancing scheme, a continuously increasing slope was found even without practice in Experiment 2. The results question the hypothesis that the focus is expanded through practice. They are in line with predictions from a model that distinguishes a one-item focus from a direct-access region holding about 4 items.

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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
Date:2006
Deposited On:08 Jul 2014 12:30
Last Modified:05 Apr 2016 17:57
Publisher:American Psychological Association
ISSN:0278-7393
Publisher DOI:https://doi.org/10.1037/0278-7393.32.2.197

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