Change search
ExportLink to record
Permanent link

Direct link


Project type/Form of grant
Project grant
Title [sv]
Ett nytt perspektiv på arbetsminne och dess relation till uppmärksamhet och inlärning
Title [en]
A new perspective on working memory and its relation to attention and learning
Abstract [en]
Working memory is often defined as the ability to maintain and manipulate information that is currently held in mind, and current views suggest that many complex human behaviors, including selective attention and the ability to withstand distraction, depend on working memory capacity. We will aim to show (1) that working memory capacity should be viewed as a trait capacity for focal-task engagementâ??not as a resource for distraction controlâ??to better accommodate empirical evidence, and (2) that working memory load shields against distraction from peripheral information but also comes with a cost associated with impaired learning of information and regularities present in the periphery. We will conduct 9 carefully controlled laboratory experiments. In each experiment, working memory load is manipulated with a visual-verbal version of the so-called n-back task. Here, participants view a sequence of items (e.g., letters) and their task is to decide, in response to each item, whether it is the same item as the one presented n steps back in the sequence. Working memory load is high, when the size of n is high. In experiment series 1, we test the effects of working memory load on the tendency to allocate attention to irrelevant visual information presented in close proximity with the visual targets in the n-back task, and the effects of load on incidental memory of words presented auditorily. In experiment series 2, we test the effects of working memory load on the tendency to learn associations between stimuli in the background environment (as indexed by eyeblink conditioning and the Hebb repetition effect). In experiment series 3, we test the effects of working memory load on habituation processes. The overarching hypotheses of the series of experiments are: (1) high working memory load impairs memory of information presented in the background/periphery and (2) this effect of working memory load is greater in magnitude amongst individuals with high working memory capacity in comparison with their low capacity counterparts. The project is led by Dr. Sörqvist (principal investigator and research director at the University of Gävle) and Dr. Marsh (co-applicant, employed at the University of Central Lancashire, and guest researcher at the University of Gävle). The current project is interwoven with the projects of two internally founded PhD students at the University of Gävle who will also partake to fulfil their degree requirements. The experiments will be conducted over a 3-year period at the University of Gävle, in laboratory facilities equipped with a Tobii TX300 eyetracker system, that will be used in experiment series 1 and 3 to record eyemovements and pupillometry, and a San Diego National Instruments eyeblink conditioning system that will be used in experiment series 2. Working memory is a fundamental concept in modern views of human mental life. The concept takes a central position within cognitive psychology, social psychology and other of psychology's sub-disciplines. Thus, understanding the functional characteristics of working memory and its relation to attention and learning has substantial implications for psychology in general. We expect to delineate a unified model of working memory, attention and learning that also embodies a novel view of individual differences in working memory capacity. This model differs from two other prominent views in cognitive psychology: Lavie's load theory that proposes that high working memory load increases (as opposed to our view) distraction and Engle's executive attention view of working memory capacity that proposes that high capacity shields against distraction because high-capacity individuals have more resources available to combat distraction.
Principal InvestigatorSörqvist, Patrik
Coordinating organisation
University of Gävle
2016-01-01 - 2018-12-31
National Category
Psychology (excluding Applied Psychology)
DiVA, id: project:300Project, id: 2015-01116_VR

Search in DiVA

Psychology (excluding Applied Psychology)

Search outside of DiVA

GoogleGoogle Scholar