Executive working memory load does not compromise perceptual processing during visual search: Evidence from additive factors analysis

Jibo He, Jason McCarley

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

    11 Citations (Scopus)

    Abstract

    Executive working memory (WM) load reduces the efficiency of visual search, but the mechanisms by which this occurs are not fully known. In the present study, we assessed the effect of executive load on perceptual processing during search. Participants performed a serial oculomotor search task, looking for a circle target among gapped-circle distractors. The participants performed the task under high and low executive WM load, and the visual quality (Experiment 1) or discriminability of targets and distractors (Experiment 2) was manipulated across trials. By the logic of the additive factors method (Sternberg, 1969, 1998), if WM load compromises the quality of perceptual processing during visual search, manipulations of WM load and perceptual processing difficulty should produce nonadditive effects. Contrary to this prediction, the effects of WM load and perceptual difficulty were additive. The results imply that executive WM load does not degrade perceptual analysis during visual search.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)308-316
    Number of pages9
    JournalAttention, Perception & Psychophysics
    Volume72
    Issue number2
    DOIs
    Publication statusPublished - Feb 2010

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