Workload is bad, except when its not: The case of avoiding attractive distractors

Myers, C. W., Gray, W. D., & Schoelles, M. J. (2004). Workload is bad, except when its not: The case of avoiding attractive distractors. In K. D. Forbus, D. Gentner & T. Regier (Eds.), 26th Annual Meeting of the Cognitive Science Society, CogSci2004. Hillsdale, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Publisher.


Increased cognitive workload is typically considered to hinder task performance. The current study presents an example where increased workload aided a visual search task. Increased workload, via a secondary task, provided participants extra time to avoid distracting stimulus configurations. Furthermore, initial fixations on distracting densities occurred at higher frequencies when initial saccades lasted less–than 400 milliseconds. We conclude that the combination of the primary visual search task and the secondary task create an environment where the secondary task was beneficial to the visual search task

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