How Interference Affects Working Memory

Topics: Coffee, Distraction, Mobile phone Pages: 6 (1056 words) Published: December 6, 2014

Keywords: Interference, Memory, Caffeine, Bilingualism

How Interference Affects Working Memory Recall
Attention and memory tend to go together. The better attention we pay to something, the better we can remember it later on. This notion memory and attention pertains greatly to working memory, which deals with small amounts of information that are ready for immediate use (Chun & Turk-Browne, 2007). The connection between attention and memory has been studied for many years through MRI’s, EEG’s (Electroencephalography ), and memory recall tests (word lists/letter lists) (Jones, Hughes, & Macken, 2010). Mainly, what studies have tried to find is whether direct attention is needed for encoding of information (Fougnie, 2008).Distractions have been found to affect how well we pay attention to things and thus tend to affect how well we encode information in our working memory which appears lead to problems in recalling the information even in short periods of time (Chun & Turk-Browne, 2007).Distractions have been found to have an effect on our memory (Fougnie, 2008). Noise is a known distractor, certain noises affect people in certain ways and depending on when and how these noises are used, they can affect how well we pay attention and recall the information from the tasks we were performing (Hughes, Jones, & Macken). There are a number of noises that are deemed annoying/distracting such as a dentist’s drill, crying baby and construction noises, however, an extremely common noise that has been deemed greatly annoying/distracting is a ringing cellphone (Bell, Buchner, & Röer, 2014). The research performed by Bell (Bell et al, 2014) found that one of the noises most people surveyed found annoying was a ringing cellphone. From this, the researchers decided to see how much of a nuisance an unanswered phone was so they performed a repeated measures test with their participants using either the participants ringtone, a different, irrelevant ringtone during encoding, or silence. They found that participants performed worse when they had to ignore the cellphone regardless of whether it was their own or not. This recent study shows us how interference, in particular, noise interference, from the unanswered cellphone affects how well we pay attention and can lead to worse recall, even though cellphones are common, everyday artifacts.

There were 40 participants conveniently selected by the confederates. The participants were separated into two conditions, Group A which was the no distraction condition, and Group B which was the distraction condition. The average age of the participants was 25. 08 (SD = 8.03) with the minimum age being 18 and the maximum age being 52. The sample consisted of 20% males and 80% females. The ethnicities of the partipants were as follows: 17.5% Asian or Asian American, 7.5% Black or African American, 32.5% Hispanic or Latino, 30% Non-Hispanic White, 12.5% Other. Out of the 40 participants, 72.5% were fluent in languages other than English and 27.5% were not fluent in other languages. (ADD LANGUAGE). (ADD CAFFEINE) Materials

Memory Recall Survey. This survey consisted of 15 questions measuring the demographics, attention span, bilingualism, and caffeine consumption of participants. The demographics asked for participant’s age, gender and ethnicity. Following these, we asked if English was their first language, whether they were fluent in more than one language and how many languages they spoke. We then asked if they became easily distracted and asked them to pick a specific noise they found most annoying/distracting. After this we asked if they consumed caffeinated beverages. We also asked them to check all the caffeinated products that applied from a list of 10 caffeinated food and beverage items, including different coffee options( brewed, instant, espresso), tea, chocolate, energy drinks and soda. We asked how many caffeinated...

References: Jones, D., Hughes, R., & Macken, W. (2010). Auditory Distraction And Serial Memory: The Avoidable And The Ineluctable. Noise and Health, 12(49), 201-209. DOI: 10.4103/1463-1741.70497
Ljungberg, J. K., Hansson, P., Andrés, P., Josefsson, M., Nilsson, L., & Bolhuis, J. J. (2013). A Longitudinal Study of Memory Advantages in Bilinguals. PLoS ONE, 8(9), e73029. DOI:10.1371/journal.pone.0073029
Nehlig, A. (2010). Is Caffeine a Cognitive Enhancer?. Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease, 20, S85-S94. DOI 10.3233/JAD-2010-091315
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