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Supervisory System Functioning in Memory Tasks and Interference from Secondary tasks

Cinan, Sevtap; (1998) Supervisory System Functioning in Memory Tasks and Interference from Secondary tasks. Doctoral thesis (Ph.D), UCL (University College London). Green open access

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In the recent decades, within the multiple memory systems framework the notion of memory processing systems which have a strategic control over memory processes both at encoding and at retrieval has been raised, but few studies have been done to reveal the system functioning in a memory task. Although several different terms are being used to refer to these memory systems, the preference of this thesis will be the term "supervisory systems", proposed by Norman and Shallice (1980) for such narrow purpose of attentional control of action but later on generalized to memory systems (Baddeley, 1986). This thesis examined the kind of strategic processes associated with supervisory functioning at encoding and retrieval phases of different memory tasks by using dual task methods. Experiments one to three studied supervisory system functioning in the free recall of categorized lists. The results showed a secondary task effect on encoding but an effect on retrieval was observed only when the experimental lists contained items from four or six different categories. There was no secondary task effect on recall of lists with two categories. This finding indicated that the role of supervisory systems in the retrieval of categorized lists is associated with the search for different categories and that, once a category name is found, the recall of items from a particular category is relatively automatic. Experiments four to eight examined supervisory processing in an A-B A-C paradigm. The results of experiments four and five showed that the secondary task interference with retrieval led to an increase in intrusion errors. This was interpreted as an indication of the working of supervisory verification processes in recall of A-B A-C lists. In addition, the results of experiments five to eight supported the strategic encoding processes suggested in Mediational theory (Arkes and Lyons, 1979). An important finding of A-B A-C experiments was that, in A-B A-C learning, a secondary task interference with learning of one of the two lists harms learning of the other list learned and recalled in the absence of the secondary task. Experiments nine to eleven examined event confusion in the recall of lists containing event elements. The results showed that performance of a secondary task led a clear event element confusion when subjects were asked to recall related event element lists. This effect was diminished when unrelated event lists were used. Conclusions are as follows: first, the present thesis produced a detailed account of the cognitive processes that operate at encoding and retrieval of three different memory tasks, namely free-recall of categorized lists, cued-recall of A-B A-C lists, and free-recall of event element lists. Second, in line with some of the recent views (e.g. Hayes et al, 1996), it is accepted that the concept of supervisory system suffers from a certain vagueness in its definition, but it does offer a useful theoretical framework. Third, it is believed that the suggestions concerning the supervisory functioning provided plausible and good explanations for the complex patterns of the results obtained in the present experiments by using dual task manipulations and manipulation of task demands.

Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Qualification: Ph.D
Title: Supervisory System Functioning in Memory Tasks and Interference from Secondary tasks
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
Language: English
Additional information: Thesis digitised by ProQuest.
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/10104577
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