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Effect of template complexity on visual search and dual task performance.
Bourke, P.A. & DUNCAN, J.
Psychological Science, 16(3), 208-213
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Even dissimilar tasks interfere when done together. We use visual search to examine the underlying cause. In many models, visual search is a process of biased competition controlled by a template describing the target to be sought (Desimone & Duncan, 1995). When the display is processed, matching against this template guides attention to the target (Bundesen, 1990; Cave & Wolfe, 1990; Duncan & Humphreys, 1989). We show that increasing template complexity increases interference with a dissimilar, concurrent task - story memory. This result is independent of reaction time - increases in template complexity can be associated with no increase (Experiment 1) or a decrease (Experiment 2) in search time. The results show that the dual task demands of visual search reflect the complexity of the template used in task control, and that this can be isolated from other sources of difficulty.