Working Memory Capacity and Focused and Sustained Attention
Final technical rept.
GEORGIA TECH RESEARCH CORP ATLANTA
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Results are reported from sixteen different sets of studies on a model of working memory capacity. We see WM as a system consisting of those long-term memory traces active above threshold, the procedures and skills necessary to achieve and maintain that activation and, what we call executive attention - the ability to control and sustain focus of attention. Tasks of working memory capacity WMC reflect influences from both domain-specific and domain-free processes but we have concluded that the portion that reflects domain-free executive attention is responsible for the value of such tasks for predicting performance on so many different cognitive measures and is responsible for the relationship between measures of WMC and general fluid intelligence. Our findings suggest that executive attention is important to a wide range of tasks from the realms of social, cognitive, and emotional behavior. Individual differences in executive attention reflect differential functioning of brain circuits in the prefrontal cortex and the anterior cingulate.