The impact of working memory load on task execution and online plan adjustment during multitasking in a virtual environment

Anna S. Law, Steven L. Trawley, Louise A. Brown, Amanda N. Stephens, Robert H. Logie

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

12 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Three experiments investigated the impact of working memory load on online plan adjustment during a test of multitasking in young, nonexpert, adult participants. Multitasking was assessed using the Edinburgh Virtual Errands Test (EVET). Participants were asked to memorize either good or poor plans for performing multiple errands and were assessed both on task completion and on the extent to which they modified their plans during EVET performance. EVET was performed twice, with and without a secondary task loading a component of working memory. In Experiment 1, articulatory suppression was used to load the phonological loop. In Experiment 2, oral random generation was used to load executive functions. In Experiment 3, spatial working memory was loaded with an auditory spatial localization task. EVET performance for both good- and poor-planning groups was disrupted by random generation and sound localization, but not by articulatory suppression. Additionally, people given a poor plan were able to overcome this initial disadvantage by modifying their plans online. It was concluded that, in addition to executive functions, multiple errands performance draws heavily on spatial, but not verbal, working memory resources but can be successfully completed on the basis of modifying plans online, despite a secondary task load. 

LanguageEnglish
Pages1241-1258
Number of pages18
JournalQuarterly Journal of Experimental Psychology
Volume66
Issue number6
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jun 2013

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Social Adjustment
Short-Term Memory
Sound Localization
Executive Function
Young Adult

Keywords

  • multitasking
  • virtual environment
  • impact
  • working memory load
  • task execution
  • online plan
  • adjustment

Cite this

Law, Anna S. ; Trawley, Steven L. ; Brown, Louise A. ; Stephens, Amanda N. ; Logie, Robert H. . / The impact of working memory load on task execution and online plan adjustment during multitasking in a virtual environment. In: Quarterly Journal of Experimental Psychology. 2013 ; Vol. 66, No. 6. pp. 1241-1258.
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The impact of working memory load on task execution and online plan adjustment during multitasking in a virtual environment. / Law, Anna S.; Trawley, Steven L.; Brown, Louise A.; Stephens, Amanda N.; Logie, Robert H. .

In: Quarterly Journal of Experimental Psychology, Vol. 66, No. 6, 01.06.2013, p. 1241-1258.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

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