Task switching and short-term retention: The role of memory load in task switching performance
Martin, Randi C.
Master of Arts thesis
Shifting, which is the process of switching task sets between two or more tasks, incurs a cost: participants are slower and more error prone when a switch is required, relative to when the same task is performed in a sequential manner. Recent research in our lab has found a performance dissociation between two task switching paradigms in ML, a patient with reduced short-term memory (STM) capacity. The present study investigates the hypothesis that this dissociation is a result of memory load differences between the two shifting paradigms. We tested this hypothesis by measuring shifting abilities in patients with phonological and semantic short-term memory deficits, as well as age-matched controls under standard and articulatory suppression conditions. The results suggest that task-related memory demands impair the shifting performance of patients with STM deficits, and that phonological (but not semantic) retention contributes to shifting as task requirements increase.
Experimental psychology; Cognitive psychology