01/10/2018 Medicine Psychology
DOI: 10.3758/s13414-018-1543-6 SemanticScholar ID: 49643677 MAG: 2810457046

Multiple high-reward items can be prioritized in working memory but with greater vulnerability to interference

Publication Summary

Emerging literature indicates that working memory and attention interact in determining what is retained over time, though the nature of this relationship and the impacts on performance across different task contexts remain to be mapped. In the present study, four experiments examined whether participants can prioritize one or more high-reward items within a four-item target array for the purposes of an immediate cued recall task, and the extent to which this mediates the disruptive impact of a postdisplay to-be-ignored suffix. All four experiments indicated that endogenous direction of attention toward high-reward items results in their improved recall. Furthermore, increasing the number of high-reward items from one to three (Experiments 1-3) produces no decline in recall performance for those items, while associating each item in an array with a different reward value results in correspondingly graded levels of recall performance (Experiment 4). These results suggest the ability to exert precise voluntary control in the prioritization of multiple targets. However, in line with recent outcomes drawn from serial visual memory, this endogenously driven focus on high-reward items results in greater susceptibility to exogenous suffix interference, relative to low-reward items. This contrasts with outcomes from cueing paradigms, indicating that different methods of attentional direction may not always result in equivalent outcomes on working memory performance.

CAER Authors

Avatar Image for Richard Allen

Dr. Richard Allen

University of Leeds - Associate Professor

Share this

Next publication

2009 Psychology

The Dynamics of Category Conjunctions

R. Hutter, R. Crisp, G. Humphreys, Gillian. M. Waters + 1 more