College of Humanities and Social Sciences

Examining the Role of Spatial Memory in Interruptions

William D. Miller, Jr

Major Professor: Deborah A. Boehm-Davis, PhD, Department of Psychology

Committee Members: Matthew Peterson, James Thompson

Mason Hall, #D201A
May 03, 2017, 09:30 AM to 11:30 AM


There has been little work investigating the role that the location of the primary task in the visual field plays following an interruption. The goal of this paper is to investigate the role that location plays in successfully resuming from an interruption and examine whether a well-known model of interruptions, Memory for Goals, should be revised to account for primary task location. The data suggest that changing the location of the primary task following an interruption can negatively impact resumption performance, but the effect is not consistent. We also show that there is little evidence that participants show anticipatory eye-movements towards the task between when the interruption ends and before the primary task resumes. Finally, we show that interruption performance does not improve when participants can anticipate where the primary task will resume following an interruption. These results suggest that there is no need to add an additional component to the Memory for Goals model that involves the primary task location, and that participants are fairly resilient to changes in primary task location following an interruption.

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