Title page for ETD etd-05302008-162322

Type of Document Dissertation
Author Shelton, Jill
Author's Email Address jshelt9@lsu.edu
URN etd-05302008-162322
Title The Role of Attentional Focus in Event-Based Prospective Memory
Degree Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)
Department Psychology
Advisory Committee
Advisor Name Title
Emily Elliott Committee Chair
Jason Hicks Committee Member
Melissa Beck Committee Member
Robert Mathews Committee Member
Amelia Lee Dean's Representative
  • prospective memory
  • memory and attention
  • attentional focus
Date of Defense 2008-05-09
Availability unrestricted
Shelton, Jill, B.S., University of Tennessee-Chattanooga, 2001

M.S., University of Tennessee-Chattanooga, 2003

Doctor of Philosophy, Summer Commencement, 2008

Major: Psychology

The Role of Attentional Focus in Event-based Prospective Memory.

Dissertation directed by Professor Emily Elliott

Pages in dissertation, 59. Words in abstract 188.


Two experiments were conducted to investigate how attentional resources are utilized in event-based prospective memory (PM). A PM component (make a designated response when you see a bird word) was embedded in a living/non-living judgment task (Experiment 1) and a recall task that required participants to alphabetically re-order sets of items (Experiment 2). One hypothesis predicts that the focus of attention (as defined by Cowan’s model of working memory) will be narrowed, or zoomed-in, when PM target items appear during an ongoing task. This could lead to task benefits or costs depending on the nature of the ongoing task. The zoom hypothesis was supported in Experiment 1, but high performance rates in Experiment 2 reduced the ability to observe any potential effects. The second hypothesis predicts that attentional control resources, as indexed by measures of working memory capacity, will be associated with PM performance, and this hypothesis was not supported in either experiment. The outcome of this research addresses several assumptions present within prominent theories of PM, and takes the first step in investigating how focal attention processes, in particular, influence PM performance and other ongoing cognitive activities.

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