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Parallel memory retrieval in dual-task situations?

Fischer, R.
2007, 184 pages
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The question of whether information can be retrieved from memory concurrently to other cognitive processes has been an important issue in cognitive psychology for decades. The present dissertation pursues this question by investigating whether people can access information in memory (sampling component of memory retrieval) in one task while being occupied processing a different task. In previous studies, it has been claimed that evidence for parallel memory retrieval can only be found when both tasks are identical (e.g, Logan & Schulkind, 2000). However, I argue that this claim is subject to methodological confounds.
Using a dual-task procedure that allowed to circumvent these confounds I manipulated the Task 2 sampling component of memory retrieval to investigate whether memory activation in Task 2 is limited by Task 1 bottleneck stage processing when both tasks are not identical. By distinguishing between the activation of low level representations (S-R associations) and the activation of high level representations (number categories/valence categories), the possibility of parallel memory retrieval in Task 2 was studied as a function of the memory representation that was to be retrieved.
The results indicate that evidence for parallel memory retrieval in dual-tasks was only found for the activation of low level representations from memory. No evidence for parallel memory retrieval was found for the retrieval of high level representations in Task 2 of a dual-task situation consisting of different tasks.

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