Looking for the attentional boost effect in a prospective memory paradigm




Khoja, Nadia

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The attentional boost effect is defined as better memory for items that concurrently appear with the secondary task target items during a divided attention task (Spataro et. al., 2013; Swallow & Jiang, 2010; Swallow & Jiang, 2011), while prospective memory is the ability to remember to perform an intended action. This study investigated whether an attentional boost effect could occur in a prospective memory paradigm. Four groups of participants (focal control, focal prospective memory, nonfocal control and nonfocal prospective memory) performed an ongoing size judgment task in which they compared two words to determine whether the object on the left was smaller than the object on the right. The control groups performed only the ongoing task. The nonfocal prospective memory (PM) group saw colored circles centered below two words and tried to remember to touch the circle when it appeared in the target color. The focal PM group tried to remember to touch a prospective memory cue word when it appeared during the ongoing task. After the ongoing task was finished, all participants completed a recognition test in which they were asked to identify words that had been presented during the size judgment task. Although the attentional boost effect did not occur and recognition performance was high across all groups for target and distractor words, a reverse focality effect was demonstrated such that PM performance in the nonfocal PM group was significantly better compared to the focal PM group.


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Attentional Boost Effect, Divided Attention, Prospective Memory