Variation in working memory capacity and cognitive control: Goal maintenance and microadjustments of control

Nash Unsworth, Thomas S. Redick, Gregory J. Spillers, Gene Brewer

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

53 Scopus citations

Abstract

Variation in working memory capacity (WMC) and cognitive control was examined in four experiments. In the experiments high- and low-WMC individuals performed a choice reaction time task (Experiment 1), a version of the antisaccade task (Experiment 2), a version of the Stroop task (Experiment 3), and an arrow version of the flanker task (Experiment 4). An examination of response time distributions suggested that high- and low-WMC individuals primarily differed in the slowest responses in each experiment, consistent with the notion that WMC is related to active maintenance abilities. Examination of two indicators of microadjustments of control (posterror slowing and conflict adaptation effects) suggested no differences between high- and low-WMC individuals. Collectively these results suggest that variation in WMC is related to some, but not all, cognitive control operations. The results are interpreted within the executive attention theory of WMC.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)326-355
Number of pages30
JournalQuarterly Journal of Experimental Psychology
Volume65
Issue number2
DOIs
StatePublished - Feb 1 2012

Keywords

  • Cognitive control
  • Individual differences
  • Working memory capacity

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physiology
  • Neuropsychology and Physiological Psychology
  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
  • Psychology(all)
  • Physiology (medical)

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