Individual differences in working memory capacity predict visual attention allocation

M. Kathryn Bleckley, Francis T. Durso, Jerry M. Crutchfield, Randall W. Engle, Maya M. Khanna

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

102 Scopus citations


To the extent that individual differences in working memory capacity (WMC) reflect differences in attention (Baddeley, 1993; Engle, Kane, & Tuholski, 1999), differences in WMC should predict performance on visual attention tasks. Individuals who scored in the upper and lower quartiles on the OSPAN working memory test performed a modification of Egly and Homa's (1984) selective attention task. In this task, the participants identified a central letter and localized a displaced letter flashed somewhere on one of three concentric rings. When the displaced letter occurred closer to fixation than the cue implied, high-WMC, but not low-WMC, individuals showed a cost in the letter localization task. This suggests that low-WMC participants allocated attention as a spotlight, whereas those with high WMC showed flexible allocation.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)884-889
Number of pages6
JournalPsychonomic Bulletin and Review
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2003
Externally publishedYes


All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)

Cite this

Bleckley, M. K., Durso, F. T., Crutchfield, J. M., Engle, R. W., & Khanna, M. M. (2003). Individual differences in working memory capacity predict visual attention allocation. Psychonomic Bulletin and Review, 10(4), 884-889.