Drifting from slow to “D’oh!” Working memory capacity and mind wandering predict extreme reaction times and executive-control errors.

UNCG Author/Contributor (non-UNCG co-authors, if there are any, appear on document)
Michael J. Kane, Professor (Creator)
Jennifer C. McVay (Creator)
The University of North Carolina at Greensboro (UNCG )
Web Site: http://library.uncg.edu/

Abstract: 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 capacity (WMC). We assessed 288 subjects' WMC and their performance and mind-wandering rates during a sustained-attention task; subjects completed either a go/no-go version requiring executive control over habit or a vigilance version that did not. We further combined the data with those from McVay and Kane (2009) to (1) gauge the contributions of WMC and attentional lapses to the worst performance rule and the tail, or t parameter, of reaction time (RT) distributions; (2) assess which parameters from a quantitative evidence-accumulation RT model were predicted by WMC and mind-wandering reports; and (3) consider intrasubject RT patterns—particularly, speeding—as potential objective markers of mind wandering. We found that WMC predicted action and thought control in only some conditions, that attentional lapses (indicated by task-unrelated-thought reports and drift-rate variability in evidence accumulation) contributed to t, performance accuracy, and WMC's association with them and that mind-wandering experiences were not predicted by trial-to-trial RT changes, and so they cannot always be inferred from objective performance measures.

Additional Information

Language: English
Date: 2012
executive control, experimental psychology, psychology, individual differences, mind wandering, reaction time, working memory, reaction times, cognitive processes, executive function

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