Multitasking in Working Memory

Andrew HeathcoteUniversity of Newcastle, Newcastle, NSW, Australia
Ami EidelsUniversity of Newcastle, Newcastle, NSW, Australia
Joseph HouptWright State University, Dayton, Ohio, USA
James ColemanUniversity of Utah,Salt Lake City, UT 84112, USA
Jason WatsonUniversity of Utah,Salt Lake City, UT 84112, USA
David StrayerUniversity of Utah,Salt Lake City, UT 84112, USA

Abstract

We developed a novel and game like dual 2-back computerized task, Gatekeeper, which we deployed online with 245 male and female participants ranging in age from 13 to 83 years. Gatekeeper requires participants to remember only 4 items, so does not target memory capacity, but rather measures multitasking ability and interference control in working memory. Participants were faster and more accurate with two-targets than one-target, and Bayesian analysis supported a null effect of gender on accuracy, but accuracy did decrease with age. These results are consistent with the ability to divide attention and control proactive interference being equal for males and females but showing an age-related decline.

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