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Forgetting from lapses of sustained attention

Author(s): deBettencourt, Megan T.; Norman, Kenneth A.; Turk-Browne, Nicholas B.

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Abstract: When performing any task for an extended period of time, attention fluctuates between good and bad states. These fluctuations affect performance in the moment, but may also have lasting consequences for what gets encoded into memory. Experiment 1 establishes this relationship between attentional states and memory, by showing that subsequent memory for an item was predicted by a response time index of sustained attention (average response time during the three trials prior to stimulus onset). Experiment 2 strengthens the causal interpretation of this predictive relationship by treating the sustained attention index as an independent variable to trigger the appearance of an encoding trial. Subsequent memory was better when items were triggered from good vs. bad attentional states. Together, these findings suggest that sustained attention can have downstream consequences for what we remember, and they highlight the inferential utility of adaptive experimental designs. By continuously monitoring attention, we can influence what will later be remembered.
Publication Date: Apr-2018
Electronic Publication Date: 5-Jun-2017
Citation: deBettencourt, Megan T, Norman, Kenneth A, Turk-Browne, Nicholas B. (2018). Forgetting from lapses of sustained attention. Psychonomic Bulletin & Review, 25 (2), 605 - 611. doi:10.3758/s13423-017-1309-5
DOI: doi:10.3758/s13423-017-1309-5
ISSN: 1069-9384
EISSN: 1531-5320
Pages: 605 - 611
Type of Material: Journal Article
Journal/Proceeding Title: Psychonomic Bulletin & Review
Version: Author's manuscript

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