Interruption-recovery training transfers to novel tasks

Abstract

Interruption interference is a significant decrease in performance following task interruption. This interference is often studied using primary and interrupting task pairs. Evidence suggests that interruption interference can be reduced through practice by exposing individuals to many interruptions. However, evidence that this skill transfers beyond the tasks being trained is less clear. In particular, these practice effects may only occur when the same interrupting/primary task pairs are involved. A transfer paradigm was implemented to assess the transfer of interruption-recovery skill. Participants in separate conditions performed either the Tower of Hanoi or the Tower of London primary task during a training block and a transfer block of trials. Trials were interrupted by another task, and the primary measure was the time taken to resume the interrupted task. Significantly lower resumption times at the beginning of the transfer block lead to the conclusion that interruption recovery skill can transfer to novel tasks.


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