Effects of Memory Load and Test Position on Short-Duration Sustained Attention Tasks.


Journal Article

The current study applies a dual-task working memory and vigilance task to examine sustained attention performance and perceived workload in a multi-instrument battery. In Experiment 1 we modified a task developed by Helton and Russell (2011) to examine declines in performance and to assess the effects of its position within a larger battery. Experiment 1 failed to reveal a sensitivity decrement, and test position revealed only spurious influence. Workload scores derived from the NASA-TLX fell at the high end of the scale, with mental and temporal demand receiving the highest ratings. In Experiment 2, we modified the dual task to place more emphasis on attention rather than working memory. Results revealed a significant decline in performance across the vigil for the perceptual sensitivity index A'. Test position (early vs. late) effects appeared with the reaction time variability measure, with performance becoming more variable when the task appeared in the latter half of the battery. Workload scores varied according to position in the battery: Workload scores were higher when the vigilance task appeared in the latter half of the battery. Practical and theoretical implications are discussed.

Full Text

Cited Authors

  • Laurie-Rose, C; Frey, MC; Sibata, E; Zamary, A

Published Date

  • January 2015

Published In

Volume / Issue

  • 128 / 4

Start / End Page

  • 445 - 458

PubMed ID

  • 26721173

Pubmed Central ID

  • 26721173

Electronic International Standard Serial Number (EISSN)

  • 1939-8298

International Standard Serial Number (ISSN)

  • 0002-9556

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)

  • 10.5406/amerjpsyc.128.4.0445


  • eng