Attended and Non-Attended States in Working Memory: Accessing Categorized Structures

Brian McElree

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Following several recent approaches, working memory is argued to consist of a subset of representations that are within the scope of active processing and a larger set of recently activated, but non-attended representations. A response-signal speed-accuracy tradeoff (SAT) and complementary reaction time variant of a probe recognition task were used to measure the retrieval of categorized material from working memory. In SAT, two distinct retrieval speeds were found: A fast rate for items from the last studied category and a slower rate common to all items from other categories in the list. This difference in retrieval speed was evident in the shapes of the reaction time distributions. The faster retrieval speed for items from the last category is argued to reflect a matching process in which the recognition probe is rapidly compared to the current contents of awareness.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)225-252
Number of pages28
JournalJournal of Memory and Language
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 1998

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuropsychology and Physiological Psychology
  • Language and Linguistics
  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
  • Linguistics and Language
  • Artificial Intelligence


Dive into the research topics of 'Attended and Non-Attended States in Working Memory: Accessing Categorized Structures'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this