Attention and Working Memory Capacity: Insights From Blocking, Highlighting, and Knowledge Restructuring

David K. Sewell*, Stephan Lewandowsky

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (Academic Journal)

22 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

The concept of attention is central to theorizing in learning as well as in working memory. However, research to date has yet to establish how attention as construed in one domain maps onto the other. We investigate two manifestations of attention in category- and cue-learning to examine whether they might provide common ground between learning and working memory. Experiment I examined blocking and highlighting effects in an associative learning paradigm, which are widely thought to be attentionally mediated. No relationship between attentional performance indicators and working memory capacity (WMC) was observed, despite the fact that WMC was strongly associated with overall learning performance. Experiment 2 used a knowledge restructuring paradigm, which is known to require recoordination of partial category knowledge using representational attention. We found that the extent to which people successfully recoordinated their knowledge was related to WMC. The results illustrate a link between WMC and representational-but not dimensional-attention in category learning.</p>
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)444-469
Number of pages26
JournalJournal of Experimental Psychology: General
Volume141
Issue number3
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Aug 2012

Structured keywords

  • Memory

Keywords

  • attention
  • working memory capacity
  • knowledge restructuring
  • associative learning
  • category learning
  • RULE-BASED EXTRAPOLATION
  • SHORT-TERM-MEMORY
  • SELECTIVE ATTENTION
  • INDIVIDUAL-DIFFERENCES
  • EXECUTIVE ATTENTION
  • ASSOCIATIVE BLOCKING
  • BACKWARD BLOCKING
  • MEASUREMENT ERROR
  • EXEMPLAR MODELS
  • CONTEXT THEORY

Cite this