September 2011
Volume 11, Issue 11
Free
Vision Sciences Society Annual Meeting Abstract  |   September 2011
Multiple object tracking, working memory capacity, and motivation
Author Affiliations
  • Nathan Medeiros-Ward
    Department of Psychology, University of Utah
  • Janelle Seegmiller
    Department of Psychology, University of Utah
  • Jason Watson
    Department of Psychology, University of Utah
    The Brain Institute, University of Utah
  • David Strayer
    Department of Psychology, University of Utah
Journal of Vision September 2011, Vol.11, 284. doi:10.1167/11.11.284
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      Nathan Medeiros-Ward, Janelle Seegmiller, Jason Watson, David Strayer; Multiple object tracking, working memory capacity, and motivation. Journal of Vision 2011;11(11):284. doi: 10.1167/11.11.284.

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      © ARVO (1962-2015); The Authors (2016-present)

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Abstract

Being able to track moving objects is an important ability for daily navigation through our visual world; however, individuals may vary in their ability to track objects (Drew & Vogel, 2008). Typically, this variation in tracking ability has been examined using higher level cognitive processes (Oksama & Hyona, 2004), though it is not clear what role motivation may play in influencing performance on visual tracking tasks. In this study, we investigated the influence of verbal working memory capacity and self reported motivation on multiple object tracking performance. Fifty-one participants completed a battery of cognitive psychology measures, including a multiple object tracking (MOT) task, an automated operation span task (Ospan), and a questionnaire related to motivation (Sundre, 1999; Wolf & Smith, 1995). For the MOT task, participants tracked two, three, four, and five objects, and an overall measure of tracking performance was computed for each participant. For the Ospan task, the number of correctly solved math problems and correctly recalled items in the proper order was used as a measure of working memory capacity. Finally, the motivation questionnaire consisted of 10 items that were combined into a single measure of overall motivation (Cronbach's alpha >.80). While others have argued for the role of higher level cognitive processes in predicting visual tracking performance, the current study found no significant effect of working memory capacity on MOT performance. Interestingly, motivation was significantly correlated with MOT performance, r(49) = .322, p < .05, as well as with working memory capacity, r(49) = 306, p < .05. This suggests that a verbal measure of working memory capacity may not predict visual tracking performance as well as self reported motivation. Future studies should examine spatial working memory tasks and other measures of motivation to further understand their influence on visual tracking performance.

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