The Effect of Cognitive Load and Meaning on Selective Attention


Nillie Lavie’s Load Theory of selective attention suggests that the size of the cognitive load affects selective attention ability: the larger the cognitive load, the poorer the selective attention performance. Other authors have found that the relationship between distracting and relevant information can influence how well distractors are ignored. Our study hypothesized that a) larger cognitive load would (as previously shown) hinder reaction time on a selective attention task, b) that distractors (words) semantically related to the words being held in memory (as part of the cognitive load manipulation) would be more distracting than unrelated and neutral distracters. The findings instead showed that unrelated distractors were more distracting.

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