PLoS By Category | Recent PLoS Articles

Science Policy

“Whom Should I Pass To?” The More Options the More Attentional Guidance from Working Memory
Published: Thursday, May 02, 2013
Author: Philip Furley et al.

by Philip Furley, Daniel Memmert

Three experiments investigated the predictions of the biased competition theory of selective attention in a computer based sport task. According to this theory objects held in the circuitry of working memory (WM) automatically bias attention to objects in a visual scene that match or are related to the WM representation. Specifically, we investigated whether certain players that are activated in the circuitry of WM automatically draw attention and receive a competitive advantage in a computer based sport task. In all three experiments participants had to hold an image of a certain player in WM while engaged in a speeded sport task. In Experiment 1 participants had to identify as quickly as possible which player was in possession of the ball. In Experiment 2 and 3 participants had to decide to which player they would pass to in a cartoon team handball situation and a photo picture basketball situation. The results support the biased competition theory of selective attention and suggest that certain decision options receive a competitive advantage if they are associated with the activated contents in the circuitry of WM and that this effect is more pronounced when more decision options compete for attention. A further extension compared to previous research was that the contents of working memory not only biased attention but also actual decisions that can lead to passing errors in sport. We critically discuss the applied implications of the findings.