The attentional boost effect really is a boost: Evidence from a new baseline

Khena M. Swallow, Yuhong V. Jiang

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    16 Scopus citations


    In the attentional boost effect, participants encode images into memory as they perform an unrelated target-detection task. Later memory is better for images that coincided with a target rather than a distractor. This advantage could reflect a broad processing enhancement triggered by target detection, but it could also reflect inhibitory processes triggered by distractor rejection. To test these possibilities, in four experiments we acquired a baseline measure of image memory when neither a target nor a distractor was presented. Participants memorized faces presented in a continuous series (500- or 100-ms duration). At the same time, participants monitored a stream of squares. Some faces appeared on their own, and others coincided with squares in either a target or a nontarget color. Because the processes associated with both target detection and distractor rejection were minimized when faces appeared on their own, this condition served as a baseline measure of face encoding. The data showed that long-term memory for faces coinciding with a target square was enhanced relative to faces in both the baseline and distractor conditions. We concluded that detecting a behaviorally relevant event boosts memory for concurrently presented images in dual-task situations.

    Original languageEnglish (US)
    Pages (from-to)1298-1307
    Number of pages10
    JournalAttention, Perception, and Psychophysics
    Issue number5
    StatePublished - Jul 2014


    • Attention
    • Attentional boost effect
    • Dual-task processing

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