Comparing objective and subjective measures of inattention that predict forgetting
Cassandra Collins1, McKinzey Torrance1, Barry Eom1, David DiStefano1, Elizabeth Race1; 1Tufts University
Fluctuations in attention can impact whether information is encoded into memory. However, it is currently unclear whether different behavioral and neural measures of inattention accurately predict forgetting (deBettencourt et al., 2017; Maillet & Schacter, 2016). The current study investigated whether different subjective and objective measures of inattention predict subsequent memory, and the degree to which these measures are modulated by individual differences in (a) trait levels of inattention (i.e., propensity to mind wander) and (b) electrophysiological trait markers of central nervous system function (individual alpha frequency; IAF). Participants performed an incidental encoding task and were periodically cued to self-report their subjective attentional state. Trait levels of inattention were measured by a battery of questionnaires and IAF was calculated from a resting-state EEG block. Subjective measures of inattention (off-task reports during memory encoding) positively correlated with trait levels of inattention across individuals, but did not correlate with IAF or predict forgetting on a subsequent memory test. In contrast, objective measures of inattention (response omissions, mean RT) did not correlate with trait levels of inattention, but did negatively correlate with IAF across participants. Objective measures of inattention also predicted forgetting, but only across participants and not for individual items within subjects. These results link objective measures of inattention to endogenous alpha oscillations and indicate that objective measures of inattention may be a stronger predictor of later forgetting than subjective measures across individuals. However, more sensitive neural, rather than behavioral, measures may better capture moment-to-moment fluctuations in attention that impair encoding.
Topic Area: ATTENTION: Other