Megan McCray

Document Type


Date of Award


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)



First Advisor

Timothy J Ricker


We rely on our capacity for rapid attention switching to conduct multiple tasks simultaneously. Leading working memory models assume that memory maintenance and attention-demanding secondary task processing cannot coincide. Any reduction in memory maintenance activities occurring due to secondary task processing leads to impaired recall. This temporal relationship is typically characterized through the proportion of time spent attending to the concurrent processing task, also called cognitive load. Although the primary determinant of forgetting in leading models, recent findings show limitations to cognitive load effects in multitasking. We investigated whether the effects of cognitive load are a byproduct of subjective task difficulty assessments by participants during a visuospatial working-memory dual-task by asking participants to complete subjective workload measurement (NASA-TLX). Results were compared to objective cognitive load to determine which measurement is a better model for predicting multitasking effects. The present findings inform our understanding of human working memory capabilities and the role of both subjective workload and objective cognitive load in driving memory performance during multitasking.

Subject Categories

Cognitive Psychology | Psychology


Visual working memory, Working memory

Number of Pages



University of South Dakota



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