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Michael J. Kane

I am a cognitive psychologist studying the dynamic interaction between attention and memory, with special emphasis on individual differences. I use experimental and correlational methods to explore 4 central questions: 1. How do individuals control attention, in selectively processing goal-relevant information amidst distraction, in processing multiple information sources simultaneously, or in switching between different information sources or task objectives? 2. What are the consequences of attention-control failures for remembering, reasoning, and goal-directed action? 3. To what degree does maintaining information in active memory constrain our ability to focus attention and control action? 4. Why do “span” tests of working-memory capacity (WMC) do such a good job of predicting individual differences in general cognitive ability? In short, my research explores the nature of WMC's predictive power, in order to understand cognitive individual differences and the functioning of the core attention and memory processes that are broadly important to “real world” cognition. Also, I am a consulting editor for Psychological Bulletin, Memory & Cognition, and Frontiers in Psychology (and former associate editor for Cognitive Psychology and Memory & Cognition).

There are 37 included publications by Michael J. Kane :

TitleDateViewsBrief Description
Aging ebbs the flow of thought: Adult age differences in mind wandering, executive control, and self-evaluation. 2013 569 Two experiments examined the relations among adult aging, mind wandering, and executive-task performance, following from surprising laboratory findings that older adults report fewer task-unrelated thoughts (TUTs) than do younger adults (e.g., Giambr...
Bias versus bias: Harnessing hindsight to reveal paranormal belief change beyond demand characteristics 2010 937 Psychological change is difficult to assess, in part because self-reported beliefs and attitudes may be biased or distorted. The present study probed belief change, in an educational context, by using the hindsight bias to counter another bias that g...
Conducting the Train of Thought: Working Memory Capacity, Goal Neglect, and Mind Wandering in an Executive-Control Task 2009 1007 On the basis of the executive-attention theory of working memory capacity (WMC; e.g., M. J. Kane, A. R. A. Conway, D. Z. Hambrick, & R. W. Engle, 2007), the authors tested the relations among WMC, mind wandering, and goal neglect in a sustained atten...
Contribution of strategy use to performance on complex and simple span tasks. 2011 132 Simple and complex span tasks are widely thought to measure related but separable memory constructs. Recently, however, research has demonstrated that simple and complex span tasks may tap, in part, the same construct because both similarly predict p...
The contributions of strategy use to working memory span: A comparison of strategy assessment methods 2006 375 In two experiments, we tested whether individual differences in strategy production account for individual differences in performance on a working memory span task. We measured the strategies used during a standard experimenter-paced operation span (...
A Controlled-Attention View of Working-Memory Capacity 2001 1786 In 2 experiments the authors examined whether individual differences in working-memory (WM) capacity are related to attentional control. Experiment I tested high- and low-WM-span (high-span and low-span) participants in a prosaccade task, in which a ...
Determinants of Negative Priming 1995 464 The negative priming task is widely used to investigate attentional inhibition. A critical review of the negative priming literature considers various parameters of the task (e.g., time course, relation to interference, level of occurrence, and susce...
Dispatching the wandering mind? Toward a laboratory method for cuing “spontaneous” off-task thought. 2013 86 Cognitive psychologists and neuroscientists study most phenomena of attention by measuring subjects' overt responses to discrete environmental stimuli that can be manipulated to test competing theories. The mind wandering experience, however, cannot ...
Does Mind Wandering Reflect Executive Function or Executive Failure? Comment on Smallwood and Schooler (2006) and Watkins (2008) 2010 3652 In this comment, we contrast different conceptions of mind wandering that were presented in 2 recent theoretical reviews: Smallwood and Schooler (2006) and Watkins (2008). We also introduce a new perspective on the role of executive control in mind w...
Drifting from slow to “D’oh!” Working memory capacity and mind wandering predict extreme reaction times and executive-control errors. 2012 371 A combined experimental, individual-differences, and thought-sampling study tested the predictions of executive attention (e.g., Engle & Kane, 2004) and coordinative binding (e.g., Oberauer, Süß, Wilhelm, & Sander, 2007) theories of working memory ca...
Dual Mechanisms of Negative Priming 1997 319 Three experiments examined whether negative priming is a dually determined effect produced by inhibitory mechanisms and by a memorial process. Younger adults (Experiment 1) and older adults (Experiments 1-3) were tested in procedures that varied the ...
The Expression of Adult ADHD Symptoms in Daily Life: An Application of Experience Sampling Methodology 2008 798 Objective: To use experience sampling method (ESM) to examine the impact of inattentive and hyperactive-impulsive ADHD symptoms on emotional well-being, activities and distress, cognitive impairment, and social functioning assessed in the daily lives...
A First Look at the Role of Domain-General Cognitive and Creative Abilities in Jazz Improvisation 2013 286 The present study explored the associations among several cognitive and creative abilities and expert ratings of jazz improvisational quality. Ten male undergraduate jazz students (8 performance majors, 2 education majors; 5 winds, 3 strings, 1 piano...
For Whom the Mind Wanders, and When: An Experience- Sampling Study of Working Memory and Executive Control in Daily Life 2007 1847 An experience-sampling study of 124 under-graduates, pretested on complex memory-span tasks, examined the relation between working memory capacity (WMC) and the experience of mind wandering in daily life. Over 7 days, personal digital assistants sign...
The Generality of Working Memory Capacity: A Latent-Variable Approach to Verbal and Visuospatial Memory Span and Reasoning 2004 811 A latent-variable study examined whether verbal and visuospatial working memory (WM) capacity measures reflect a primarily domain-general construct by testing 236 participants in 3 span tests each of verbal WM, visuospatial WM, verbal short-term memo...
Goal neglect and working memory capacity in 4- to 6-year-old children. 2010 90 Goal neglect is the phenomenon of failing to execute the momentary demands of a task despite understanding and being able to recall the task instructions. Successful goal maintenance is more likely to occur in adults with high working memory capacity...
Individual differences in working memory capacity and visual search: The roles of top-down and bottom-up processing 2007 857 Individual differences in working memory capacity (WMC) have been implicated in a variety of top-down, attention-control tasks: Higher WMC subjects better ignore irrelevant distractions and withhold habitual responses than do lower WMC subjects. Kane...
Inhibitory Attentional Mechanisms and Aging 1994 431 Two experiments sought to elicit distractor suppression in older adults. Experiment 1 used a procedure that increased suppression in younger adults, thus creating a more sensitive measure of suppression in older adults. To compensate for older adults...
Measuring working memory capacity with automated complex span tasks. 2012 1682 Individual differences in working memory capacity are related to a variety of behaviors both within and outside of the lab. Recently developed automated complex span tasks have contributed to increasing our knowledge concerning working memory capacit...
On the time course of negative priming: Another look 1996 323 In two experiments, the pattern of persistence of negative priming effects across delay intervals of 500 and 2,500 msec was assessed using a within-subjects, random sequencing of delays. Neill and Valdes (1992; Neill, Valdes, Terry, & Gorfein, 1992) ...
Premonitory Urges as "Attentional Tics" in Tourette's Syndrome 1994 1080 The author, a graduate student with Gilles de la Tourette's syndrome, proposes that pre-tic sensory experiences result from a specific attentional deficit. Based on his own introspective case study, the author argues that the premonitory urges that p...
The role of interference in memory span 1999 1420 In two experiments, we investigated the possibility that susceptibility to proactive interference (PI) affects performance on memory span measures. We tested both younger and older adults (older adults were tested because of the suggestion that they ...
The role of prefrontal cortex in working-memory capacity, executive attention, and general fluid intelligence: An individual-differences perspective 2002 1762 We provide an "executive-attention" framework for organizing the cognitive neuroscience research on the constructs of working-memory capacity (WMC), general fluid intelligence, and prefrontal cortex (PFC) function. Rather than provide a novel theory ...
Tracking the train of thought from the laboratory into everyday life: An experience-sampling study of mind wandering across controlled and ecological contexts 2009 702 In an experience-sampling study that bridged laboratory, ecological, and individual-differences approaches to mind-wandering research, 72 subjects completed an executive-control task with periodic thought probes (reported by McVay & Kane, 2009) and t...
The validity of “conceptual span” as a measure of working memory capacity 2007 649 Three experiments tested whether a modified version of the Clustered Conceptual Span task (H. J. Haarmann, E. J. Davelaar, & M. Usher, 2003), which ostensibly requires active maintenance of semantic representations, predicted individual differences i...
Who Shalt Not Kill? Individual Differences in Working Memory Capacity, Executive Control, and Moral Judgment 2008 1762 Recent findings suggest that exerting executive control influences responses to moral dilemmas. In our study, subjects judged how morally appropriate it would be for them to kill one person to save others. They made these judgments in 24 dilemmas tha...
Why does working memory capacity predict variation in reading comprehension? On the influence of mind wandering and executive attention. 2012 588 Some people are better readers than others, and this variation in comprehension ability is predicted by measures of working memory capacity (WMC). The primary goal of this study was to investigate the mediating role of mind-wandering experiences in t...
Why does working memory span predict complex cognition? Testing the strategy affordance hypothesis 2008 463 We introduce and empirically evaluate the strategy affordance hypothesis, which holds that individual dif-ferences in strategy use will mediate the relationship between performances on a working memory (WM) span task and another cognitive task only w...
Working Memory Capacity and Fluid Intelligence Are Strongly Related Constructs : Comment on Ackerman, Beier, and Boyle (2005) 2005 2147 The authors agree with P. L. Ackerman, M. E. Beier, and M. O. Boyle (2005) that working memory capacity (WMC) is not isomorphic with general fluid intelligence (Gf) or reasoning ability. However, the WMC and Gf/reasoning constructs are more strongly ...
Working memory capacity and its relation to general intelligence 2003 1976 Early investigations of working memory capacity (WMC) and reasoning ability suggested that WMC might be the basis of Spearman’s g. However, recent work has uncovered details about the basic processes involved in working memory tasks, which has result...
Working Memory Capacity and the Top-Down Control of Visual Search: Exploring the Boundaries of “Executive Attention” 2006 477 The executive attention theory of working memory capacity (WMC) proposes that measures of WMC broadly predict higher order cognitive abilities because they tap important and general attention capabilities (R. W. Engle & M. J. Kane, 2004). Previous re...
Working memory capacity does not always support future-oriented mind wandering. 2013 575 To evaluate the claim that mind-wandering demands executive resources, and more specifically that people with better executive control will have the resources to engage in more future-oriented thought than will those with poorer executive control, we...
Working memory span tasks: A methodological review and user’s guide 2005 1398 Working memory (WM) span tasks—and in particular, counting span, operation span, and reading span tasks—are widely used measures of WM capacity. Despite their popularity, however, there has never been a comprehensive analysis of the merits of WM span...
Working Memory, Attention Control, and the N-Back Task: A Question of Construct Validity 2007 1292 The n-back task requires participants to decide whether each stimulus in a sequence matches the one that appeared n items ago. Although n-back has become a standard ?executive? working memory (WM) measure in cognitive neuroscience, it has been subjec...
Working-Memory Capacity and the Control of Attention: The Contributions of Goal Neglect, Response Competition, and Task Set to Stroop Interference 2003 1976 Individual differences in working-memory (WM) capacity predicted performance on the Stroop task in 5 experiments, indicating the importance of executive control and goal maintenance to selective attention. When the Stroop task encouraged goal neglect...
Working-memory capacity predicts the executive control of visual search among distractors: The influences of sustained and selective attention 2009 1631 Variation in working-memory capacity (WMC) predicts individual differences in only some attention-control capabilities. Whereas higher WMC subjects outperform lower WMC subjects in tasks requiring the restraint of prepotent but inappropriate response...
Working-Memory Capacity, Proactive Interference, and Divided Attention: Limits on Long-Term Memory Retrieval 2000 2236 Two experiments examined how individual differences in working-memory capacity (WM) relate -to proactive interference (PI) susceptibility. We tested high and low WM-span participants in a PI-buildup task under single-task or dual-task ("load") condit...