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Poster B65

Interrupting working memory: The time available for primary task resumption influences attentional control processes following an interruption

Poster Session B - Sunday, April 14, 2024, 8:00 – 10:00 am EDT, Sheraton Hall ABC

Daniel Schneider1 (, Soner Ülkü1, Edmund Wascher1, Stephan Getzmann1; 1IfADo, Dortmund, Germany

Dealing with task interruptions requires the flexible use of working memory and attentional control mechanisms. Here, we investigated to which extent the time available for task resumption after an interruption can support these mechanisms. This was done based on a visual working memory task which was randomly interrupted by an arithmetic task. After the phase with or without an interruption, a retro-cue indicated which out of two stimulus orientations had to be reported. In trials without interruption, the delay phase before retro-cue presentation was either short (2300ms) or long (3300ms). The interruption task had to be completed within 1800ms and it was followed by either a short (500ms), long (1500ms) or self-determined (indicated by button press) resumption phase. While primary task accuracy (i.e., the precision of orientation report) was reduced by a preceding interruption, it was not modulated by the time available in the resumption phase. However, primary task response times benefited from longer resumption phases, especially when the length of the resumption interval was self-determined. At the EEG level, theta oscillatory power (4-7Hz) at frontal sites and the suppression of posterior alpha power (8-14Hz) were used as correlates of attentional control processes after retro-cue presentation. Both theta power and alpha power suppression were reduced after an interruption, but the suppression of alpha power was also stronger with longer resumption phases. These results indicate that attentional control processes at the level of working memory are facilitated when there is more time available to resume the primary task after an interruption.

Topic Area: EXECUTIVE PROCESSES: Working memory


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