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Lisa Heisterberg, Yoolim Hong, Andrew Leber; The impact of interruptions on long-term object processing. Journal of Vision 2018;18(10):1304. doi: https://doi.org/10.1167/18.10.1304.
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Interruptions are common in daily life, can negatively affect visual processing, and have important real world consequences. Research has been focused on performance decrements that emerge during task resumption following interruptions, but the persisting long-term consequences of interruptions remain poorly understood. In the present study, we developed a paradigm that was inspired by one introduced by Altmann et al. (2014) to study procedural errors due to interruptions. We incorporated task components allowing for the study of both the immediate and long-term effects of interruptions on object processing. In Phase 1, on each trial participants performed an ordered sequence of 6 judgments on a visual stimulus (e.g., color, size, location, object category). On 50% of trials, participants were interrupted at a random point within the sequence by a letter-copying task. The interrupted stimulus then reappeared, and participants had to resume completion of the sequence from where they left off. In Phase 2, long-term memory was assessed for stimulus features from Phase 1. Phase 1 results indicated interruptions had profound effects on the timely and accurate completion of steps in the sequence. Phase 2 produced two critical findings. First, subsequent memory for spatial and non-spatial kinds of information were differentially affected by interruptions, with interruptions benefiting spatial memory and impairing non-spatial memory. This may be due to strategic spatial marking of objects to help survive interruptions, at the expense of non-spatial properties. Second, we found that long-term memory was most fragile for stimulus properties judged in the sequence immediately before and after the interruptions, revealing how the temporal dynamics of interruptions affect encoding and consolidation of memory. These results begin to characterize how task interruptions affect long-term object processing.
Meeting abstract presented at VSS 2018
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