Strategic control modulates working memory-driven attentional capture

Chun Yu Kuo, Hsuan Fu Chao, Yei Yu Yeh*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Citations (Scopus)


The current study used a naming task to investigate whether strategic control could modulate the process of attentional capture that is driven by working memory. The use of a naming task to engage working memory eliminates potential strategic perceptual resampling, which may have played a role in several previous studies. After naming a prime, participants performed a selection task in which they judged the direction of a moving target in each trial. Prime validity, which is the probability that the primes are identical to the selection targets, was manipulated across four experiments. The results showed that reaction times to the motion judgment were faster in the valid condition than in the invalid condition when the prime validity was 50% (Experiment 1A). These results occurred even in the presence of a highly informative spatial cue that predicted the target's location (Experiment 4). A larger capturing effect was observed when the validity was 70% (Experiments 2 and 3). When the prime validity was lower than the chance level (0% in Experiment 1B; 15% in Experiments 2 and 3), a validity effect was not observed. Thus, the results suggest that there is a strong tendency for working memory to capture attention by default when there is no reason to avoid the influence of primes. When there is a reason to avoid the influence, strategic control modulates the attentional capture that is driven by working memory.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)3-11
Number of pages9
JournalExperimental Psychology
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2013
Externally publishedYes


  • Attentional capture
  • Strategic control
  • Working memory

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)
  • General Psychology


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