The Functional Working Memory Architecture of Visual Change Detection Tasks: Are These Tasks Visual Domain Specific?

Laura Jenkins

Research output: ThesisDoctoral Thesis

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This thesis aimed to investigate the functional working memory architecture of two visual change detection tasks; a quantitative colour change detection task (Luck & Vogel, 1997) and a qualitative Size Just Noticeable Differences task (Phillips & Hamilton, 2001). Domain specific approaches to the working memory architecture proposed the use of visual only representations (Baddeley, 2012), however, multicomponent approaches, have suggested the use of both visual and verbal representations (Logie, 2011; Brown & Wesley, 2013). The current thesis examined this issue using six experimental investigations. The first two studies piloted the two tasks. Two consecutive studies used dual task interference protocols to investigate the working memory architecture of each change detection task before study five provided electrophysiological data. The final study of the thesis then aimed to discover if both change detection tasks could predict verbal and non-verbal intelligence in children aged 7-13 years. The pilot investigations indicated the appropriate array size and shape size stimuli to use for the remainder of the thesis. Both dual task studies then indicated the use of visual and verbal representations within each change detection task, however qualitative smaller changes were not susceptible to verbal interference. Further evidence was provided from the electrophysiological data presenting activation of the semantic N400 and visual specific N200 in both change detection procedures, but this was significantly reduced in the small change, qualitative stimuli. Results of the final developmental investigation also indicated a more visual specific approach to the qualitative task; leading the current thesis to propose a context-dependent multicomponent approach to change detection protocols. Results are discussed in relation to the multicomponent and attentional models of working memory.
Original languageEnglish
  • Hamilton, Colin, Supervisor
  • Heffernan, Tom, Supervisor
  • Orme, Limmy, Supervisor, External person
Publication statusIn preparation - Sep 2016
Externally publishedYes


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