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J Exp Psychol Learn Mem Cogn. 2008 May;34(3):478-94. doi: 10.1037/0278-7393.34.3.478.

Working memory costs of task switching.

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Department of Experimental Psychology, Ghent University, Ghent, Belgium.


Although many accounts of task switching emphasize the importance of working memory as a substantial source of the switch cost, there is a lack of evidence demonstrating that task switching actually places additional demands on working memory. The present study addressed this issue by implementing task switching in continuous complex span tasks with strictly controlled time parameters. A series of 4 experiments demonstrate that recall performance decreased as a function of the number of task switches and that the concurrent load of item maintenance had no influence on task switching. These results indicate that task switching induces a cost on working memory functioning. Implications for theories of task switching, working memory, and resource sharing are addressed.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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