Using dimensional overlap theory as a framework to explain the relationship between working memory capacity and cognitive control

UNCG Author/Contributor (non-UNCG co-authors, if there are any, appear on document)
Matthew E. Meier (Creator)
The University of North Carolina at Greensboro (UNCG )
Web Site:
Michael Kane

Abstract: Three experiments examined the relation between working memory capacity (WMC) and two different forms of cognitive conflict: stimulus-stimulus (S-S) and stimulus-response (S-R) interference. My goal was to test whether WMC's relation to conflict-task performance is mediated by stimulus-identification processes (captured by S-S conflict), response-selection processes (captured by S-R conflict), both, or neither. In Experiment 1, subjects completed a single task presenting both S-S and S-R conflict trials, plus trials that combined the two conflict types. I limited ostensible goal-maintenance contributions to performance by requiring the same goal for all trial types and by presenting frequent conflict trials that reinforced the goal. WMC predicted resolution of S-S conflict as expected: Higher-WMC subjects showed reduced response time interference. Although WMC also predicted S-R interference, here, higher-WMC subjects showed increased error interference. Experiment 2A replicated these results in a version of the conflict task without combined S-S/S-R trials. Experiment 2B increased the proportion of congruent (i.e., non-conflict) trials to promote reliance on goal-maintenance processes. Here, higher-WMC subjects resolved both S-S and S-R conflict more successfully than did lower-WMC subjects. Experiment 3 tested for the generalizability and robustness of the effect found in Experiments 1 and 2A. This pattern of results did not generalize to other task configurations and latent variable analyses revealed that S-S and S-R conflicts were task-specific and did not represent stable across-task individual differences. Theoretical implications for the relationship between WMC and executive control are discussed.

Additional Information

Language: English
Date: 2014
Cognitive Control, Individual Differences, Working Memory Capacity
Short-term memory $x Research
Cognition $x Research

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