Working memory capacity and saccade performance across fixation delay : attentional preparation or goal neglect?
Moffitt, Chad C.
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Correctly performing an antisaccade requires the ability to inhibit an automatic response (look away from a flashing cue) as well as maintain the task goal to look opposite the cue. Past research has shown that this ability relates to Working Memory Capacity (WMC). Goal maintenance is assumed to occur before trial onset, during presentation of the fixation stimulus. Yet, there has been little research investigating whether there is an optimal time for preparing to execute the goal of inhibiting the automatic response. Furthermore, little has been done to discover how mind wandering might interfere with goal maintenance and saccade performance across the delay period. Three experiments tested the prediction that increasing the fixation duration during saccade tasks will differentially impact performance between individuals higher and lower in WMC. In Experiment 1, correlations between antisaccade accuracy and WMC increased across fixation duration, with high-span participants' performance increasing across the delay, but no effect of delay for low-spans participants. In Experiment 2, prosaccade accuracy plateaued for high-span individuals from medium to long delays, but decreased for low-spans individuals. In Experiment 3, reports of mind wandering were correlated with WMC and antisaccade accuracy, yet impacted high-span participants more than low-span participants. The results are interpreted in terms of the required preparatory and maintenance processes mentioned above.