Attentional Boost Effect

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The attentional boost effect is novel because its findings were contradictory to previous studies that found divided attention while encoding impairs one’s memory. This effect has been displayed in tests of item memory; however it has not yet been determined whether it affects contextual memory in a similar fashion. This study used four experiments to examine in further depth how the attentional boost affects contextual memory. In this review we will only be discussing experiment one, which examined contextual memory of intra-modal detail using font and color difference in study words. The other experiments tested contextual memory in a cross modal pattern using visual or auditory reception of the word items and contextual memory
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Many experiments have studied this effect using full attention and divided attention tasks in order to see if distraction really does negatively affect memory. The first demonstration of the attentional boost effect was completed by Swallow & Jiang in 2010. They had participants assigned to two conditions, one in which there was no distractor (participants were told to remember pictures), and one in which the distractor task was present (participants were told to remember the pictures while a distractor task of recognizing when a white square appeared, in contrast to a black square, to press the space bar in recognition). From this study it was identified that during the full attention task, there was no attentional boost effect found. This contrasted the divided attention task which demonstrated the attentional boost effect in situations when a given target or white square appeared, the participants had a better memory of the picture associated. This demonstrated the typical negative results of a distractor task where results during the distracted condition were lower than the full attention condition; however when the target square was present in the distracted condition, memory was as strong as the full attention condition. In further research it was found that the target and the image must be overlapped in spacing for the attentional boost effect to occur. The attentional boost…show more content…
The results showed that while the context memory was greater than chance performance of 50%, there was no significant difference between the distractor and target conditions and thus the context memory for both distractor and target trials did not have much difference. While the item memory during target condition did score higher than during the distractor task, it failed to prove that the attentional boost enhanced contextual memory significantly when tested visually. The experiment overall lacked enough participants to accurately prove a difference, had more participants been involved the results may have proven more useful. Overall the method in which this study was conducted included great insight into the many aspects of contextual memory that could potentially be affected by the attentional boost effect. However the way in which the contextual information was presented in the experiment discussed here, could have been done better. Contextual memory, while it can include things as simple as the color or font a word appeared in seems simple enough to test, it may not accurately portray contextual memory, as people don’t always ascribe such nominal details to memory in their everyday life. Perhaps if the context was something visual other than words with different fonts and colors. If the attentional boost

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