Visual attentional load affects the frequency of involuntary autobiographical memories and their level of meta-awareness

Manila Vannucci , Claudia Pelagatti , Maciej Hanczakowski , Carlo Chiorri


Involuntary autobiographical memories (IAMs) are memories of past events that come to mind without deliberate retrieval attempts. Common in everyday life, IAMs have recently become a topic of experimental investigations with laboratory procedures. In the present study, we build on the recent methodological advancements in the study of IAMs, and we investigate the effects of manipulating the attentional load on the incidence of IAMs, as well as on the level of meta-awareness of these memories. In two experiments, attentional load was manipulated by varying the demands of the focal vigilance task, and reports of IAMs were collected. In Experiment 1, participants were instructed to stop the vigilance task whenever mental contents unrelated to the task came to their minds (self-caught method). In Experiment 2, participants were intermittently interrupted and probed regarding the contents of their experience (probe-caught method) and the level of meta-awareness for these contents. In both experiments, we found a reduction in the frequency of reported IAMs under increased attentional load. Moreover, in Experiment 2, IAMs were characterized by varied levels of meta-awareness, which was reduced by increased attentional load. These results indicate that allocation of attentional resources toward a focal task reduces reporting of IAMs experienced while performing this task because attentional resources play a role in both retrieval of IAMs and the realization that one is experiencing a memory
Author Manila Vannucci
Manila Vannucci,,
, Claudia Pelagatti
Claudia Pelagatti,,
, Maciej Hanczakowski (Wydział Psychologii)
Maciej Hanczakowski,,
- Wydział Psychologii
, Carlo Chiorri
Carlo Chiorri,,
Journal seriesMemory & Cognition, ISSN 0090-502X, (N/A 140 pkt)
Issue year2019
Publication size in sheets0.6
Keywords in EnglishInvoluntary autobiographical memories . Autobiographical memory . Meta-awareness . Attentional load
ASJC Classification1201 Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous); 3205 Experimental and Cognitive Psychology; 3206 Neuropsychology and Physiological Psychology
Languageen angielski
Visual attentional load affects the frequency of involuntary_Hanczakowski.pdf 572.41 KB
Additional file
Oświadczenie_publ_Hanczakowski_Visual attentional.pdf 369.63 KB
Score (nominal)140
Score sourcejournalList
Publication indicators Scopus SNIP (Source Normalised Impact per Paper): 2016 = 1.275; WoS Impact Factor: 2017 = 1.911 (2) - 2017=2.435 (5)
Citation count*3 (2019-12-03)
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