Term of Award

Spring 2013

Degree Name

Master of Science in Experimental Psychology (M.S.)

Document Type and Release Option

Thesis (open access)

Copyright Statement / License for Reuse

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.


Department of Psychology

Committee Chair

Lawrence Locker

Committee Member 1

Rebecca Ryan

Committee Member 2

Bradley Sturz

Committee Member 3

Bradley Sturz


Previous working memory literature has considered the occurrence of an increase in reaction time following an object-switch as evidence supporting a single-item focus of attention. Much literature has also identified interference from other information as the principle cause of forgetting. These hypotheses are here challenged by (1) postulating reaction time differences are indicative of a multiple-item focus of attention that preferentially orders items based upon task-relevance, rather than a single preferred item and (2) presenting evidence of a decay process concurrently causing forgetting alongside interference. In Experiment 1 participants completed a task in which multiple repetitions of a single item resulted in inconsistent reaction times indicating this item was afforded more resources within a pool of multiple items as it became more task-relevant rather than the object switch cost indicating a single item focus of attention. Experiment 2 measured both interference and decay in a task with differential cognitive load and trial time, respectively. Each of these conditions resulted in forgetting from memory independent of one another. This is interpreted such that decay results in forgetting even in the presence of varying degrees of interference and is not affected by said interference.

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