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The Influence of Cognitive Load on Distractor-Response Bindings

, Torsten Schubert
Published: 26 July 2021

Abstract: Binding theories postulate an integration of stimulus and response features into temporary episodic traces or event files. In general, in the visual binding literature, attention is considered to be necessary to feature binding, and a higher cognitive load can lead to worse performance. On the other hand, in stimulus-response binding theories, central attention is not regarded as necessary in binding effects. A possible discrepancy between the visual feature binding findings and the findings in stimulus-response binding studies could lie in the amount of central load implemented, whereas another discrepancy was related to a specific type of process that was manipulated. In the present study, load was manipulated in three levels, such as no load, low load, and high load, and the binding effects were tested under each condition. Load was manipulated by using a secondary task, which was to be carried out simultaneously with the primary task. Additionally, the influence of targeting different working memory processes (maintenance and updating) was examined by varying the time point of the presentation of the secondary task. The results indicate that, under high load, binding effects are observed if memory contents are merely maintained, but not observed when memory contents are actively updated.
Keywords: Distractor-response binding / Stimulus-response binding / Central attention / Action control / Cognitive Load

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