The focus of attention is similar to other memory systems rather than uniquely different

Beaudry, Olivia and Neath, Ian and Surprenant, Aimée M. and Tehan, Gerald (2014) The focus of attention is similar to other memory systems rather than uniquely different. Frontiers in Human Neuroscience, 8. ISSN 1662-5161

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According to some current theories, the focus of attention (FOA), part of working memory, represents items in a privileged state that is more accessible than items stored in other memory systems. One line of evidence supporting the distinction between the FOA and other memory systems is the finding that items in the FOA are immune to proactive interference (when something learned earlier impairs the ability to remember something learned more recently). The FOA, then, is held to be unique: it is the only memory system that is not susceptible to proactive interference. We review the literature used to support this claim, and although there are many studies in which proactive interference was not observed, we found more studies in which it was observed. We conclude that the FOA is not immune to proactive interference: items in the FOA are susceptible to proactive interference just like items in every other memory system. And, just as in all other memory systems, it is how the items are represented and processed that plays a critical role in determining whether proactive interference will be observed.

Item Type: Article
Item ID: 6314
Additional Information: Memorial University Open Access Author's Fund
Keywords: focus of attention, proactive interference, working memory, memory systems, embedded processes model
Department(s): Humanities and Social Sciences, Faculty of > Psychology
Science, Faculty of > Psychology
Date: 10 February 2014
Date Type: Publication
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