The effect of word frequency and dual tasks on memory for presentation frequency
Frequency effects favoring high print-frequency words have been observed in frequency judgment memory tasks. Healthy young adults performed frequency judgment tasks; one group performed a single task while another group did the same task while alternating their attention to a secondary task (mathematical equations). Performance was assessed by correct and error responses, reaction times, and accuracy. Accuracy and reaction times were analyzed in terms of memory load (task condition), number of repetitions, effect of high vs. low print-frequency, and correlations with working memory span. Multinomial tree analyses were also completed to investigate source vs. item memory and revealed a mirror effect in episodic memory experiments (source memory), but a frequency advantage in span tasks (item memory). Interestingly enough, we did not observe an advantage for high working memory span individuals in frequency judgments, even when participants split their attention during the dual task (similar to a complex span task). However, we concluded that both the amount of attentional resources allocated and prior experience with an item affect how it is stored in memory.