Causes of Interference: Working Memory and Distraction
Working memory accounts for various types of cognitive processing, including object and spatial processing. Distraction has been demonstrated to be domain-specific with the strongest interference coming from a distractor within the same realm of processing. Emotional distractors also typically generate a strong interference effect. Using an n-back working memory task for object and spatial working memory, we tested type of distractor (erotic, negative and neutral) and phase of working memory (maintenance and encode/retrieval). We found that object working memory was the most affected by these distractors. We also found that erotic images produced the strongest interference effect and distraction in the encode/retrieval phases caused decreased performance. This study further confirms the domain-specificity of working memory and makes inferences regarding emotion theory and cognitive interference.