Immunity to proactive interference is not a property of the focus of attention in working memory

Ralph, Alicia and Walters, Jade N. and Stevens, Alison and Fitzgerald, Kirra J. and Tehan, Gerald and Surprenant, Aimee M. and Neath, Ian and Turcotte, Josee (2011) Immunity to proactive interference is not a property of the focus of attention in working memory. Memory and Cognition, 39 (2). pp. 217-230. ISSN 0090-502X


The Focus of Attention (FOA) is the latest incarnation of a limited capacity store in which a small number of items, in this case four, are deemed to be readily accessible and do not need to be retrieved. Thus a corollary of these ideas is that those items in the FOA are always immune to proactive interference. While there is empirical support for instances of immunity to PI in short-term retention tasks that involve memory for four-item lists, there are also many instances in which PI is observed with four-item lists as well as instances where PI and immunity to PI can be shown in the same experiment. In contrast to the FOA assumptions, an alternative cue-based account predicts both the presence of PI and immunity to PI as a function of the relation between the cues available and the particular test. Three experiments contrasted the FOA assumptions and the cue-based approach in a short-term cued recall task in which PI is manipulated by testing whether the presentation of previous, similar items would interfere with immediate recall of three list items. The results indicated that even with very short lists, both PI and immunity to PI could be observed. The PI effects observed in our experiment are at odds with the FOA approach and are more readily explained using the cueing account.

Statistics for USQ ePrint 21073
Statistics for this ePrint Item
Item Type: Article (Commonwealth Reporting Category C)
Refereed: Yes
Item Status: Live Archive
Additional Information: Permanent restricted access to published version due to publisher copyright policy.
Faculty/School / Institute/Centre: Historic - Faculty of Sciences - Department of Psychology
Date Deposited: 11 Apr 2012 03:33
Last Modified: 27 Aug 2014 00:49
Uncontrolled Keywords: proactive interference; short-term memory; focus of attention; serial recall; cued recall
Fields of Research : 17 Psychology and Cognitive Sciences > 1701 Psychology > 170112 Sensory Processes, Perception and Performance
17 Psychology and Cognitive Sciences > 1702 Cognitive Sciences > 170201 Computer Perception, Memory and Attention
17 Psychology and Cognitive Sciences > 1701 Psychology > 170110 Psychological Methodology, Design and Analysis
Socio-Economic Objective: E Expanding Knowledge > 97 Expanding Knowledge > 970117 Expanding Knowledge in Psychology and Cognitive Sciences
Identification Number or DOI: 10.3758/s13421-010-0030-7

Actions (login required)

View Item Archive Repository Staff Only