Training modulates memory-driven capture

Edyta Sasin, Florian Sense, Mark Nieuwenstein, Daryl Fougnie

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Attention is captured by information matching the contents of working memory. Though many factors modulate the amount of capture, there is surprising resistance to cognitive control. Capture occurs even when participants are instructed either that an item would never be a target or to drop that item from memory. Does the persistence of capture under these conditions reflect a rigidity in capture, or can properly motivated participants learn to completely suppress distractors and/or completely drop items from memory? Surprisingly, no studies have looked at the influence of extensive training of involuntary capture from working memory items. Here, we addressed whether training leads to a reduction or even elimination of memory-driven capture. After memorizing a single object, participants were cued to remember or to forget this object. Subsequently, they were asked to execute a search task. To measure capture, we compared search performances in displays that did and did not contain a distractor matching the earlier memorized object. Participants completed multiple experimental sessions over four days. The results showed that attentional capture by to-be-remembered distractors was reduced, but not eliminated in subsequent sessions compared with the first session. Training did not impact capture by to-be-forgotten objects. The results suggest observable, but limited, cognitive control over memory-driven capture.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1509-1518
Number of pages10
JournalAttention, Perception, and Psychophysics
Issue number5
StatePublished - Jul 2022


  • Attentional capture
  • Cognitive control
  • Directed forgetting
  • Memory-driven capture
  • Working memory

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
  • Language and Linguistics
  • Sensory Systems
  • Linguistics and Language


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