Date of Award




Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Department of Psychology


Cognitive Psychology

Content Description

1 online resource (ix, 84 pages) : illustrations (some color)

Dissertation/Thesis Chair

James H Neely

Committee Members

Heather Sheridan, Gordon Gallup


Attentional Boost Effect, Proactive interference, Recognition memory, Attention, Long-term memory, Memory, Distraction (Psychology), Recognition (Psychology)

Subject Categories

Cognitive Psychology


In the Attentional Boost Effect (ABE), a target-detection response enhances memory for simultaneously presented unrelated stimuli (Swallow & Jiang, 2010; see Swallow & Jiang, 2013 for a review). In two experiments, participants read aloud words simultaneously presented with a dot. Trials were presented every 1150 ms (Experiment 1) or every 2200 ms (Experiment 2). In a divided attention (DA) task, participants made a key-press to dots of a specific color. In a full attention (FA) task, they only read the words aloud while ignoring all dots. Under either intentional or incidental learning instructions, the DA task included Target words, and words that appeared with distractor dots temporally adjacent (i.e., D-Before and D-After) or temporally remote (D-Remote) from the target dot. These distractor-word conditions were included to determine if Target-dot processing proactively or retroactively interferes with the processing of temporally adjacent Distractor words, compared to temporally remote Distractor words. Word-naming and strategic long-term memory processing share the same limited pool of attentional resources independently of the sharing of attentional resources between word-naming and Target-dot detection under DA conditions when intentional learning engaged late-phase strategic long-term memory processing. Likewise, Target-dot responding for DA participants shared attentional resources with strategic long-term memory processing. Furthermore, Target-dot processing proactively, but not retroactively interfered with processing Distractors that occurred immediately after Target trials such that recognition memory was lower than for Distractors temporally remote from Target trials. Moreover, recognition memory for the TBR words read aloud in the ABE paradigm revealed an ABE for Target words relative to all Distractor words temporally adjacent or remote from Target trials. Furthermore, the ABE was absolute in that DA Target word memory was significantly greater than FA memory. Although late-phase strategic long-term memory engagement was null in Experiment 1, it was not in Experiment 2 and thus demonstrated the ABE cannot be attributed to late-phase strategic long-term memory processing when this type of processing was effectively engaged and augmented memory. The results support the early-phase elevated perceptual attention boost hypothesis for the ABE and the possible contribution of facilitated retrieval of Target words in the ABE paradigm is discussed.