Distraction control processes in free recall: Benefits and costs to performance

J.E. Marsh, P. Sörqvist, H.M. Hodgetts, C.P. Beaman, Dylan Jones

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

19 Citations (Scopus)


© 2014 American Psychological Association. How is semantic memory influenced by individual differences under conditions of distraction? This question was addressed by observing how participants recalled visual target words-drawn from a single category-while ignoring spoken distractor words that were members of either the same or a different (single) category. Working memory capacity (WMC) was related to disruption only with synchronous, not asynchronous, presentation, and distraction was greater when the words were presented synchronously. Subsequent experiments found greater negative priming of distractors among individuals with higher WMC, but this may be dependent on targets and distractors being comparable category exemplars. With less dominant category members as distractors, target recall was impaired-relative to control- only among individuals with low WMC. The results highlight the role of cognitive control resources in target- distractor selection and the individual-specific cost implications of such cognitive control.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)118-133
JournalJournal of Experimental Psychology: Learning Memory and Cognition
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2015


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