Lapsing while learning : how attentional fluctuations hinder memory formation

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The human brain has a remarkable capacity for retaining the details of our everyday lives over long stretches of time. Part of what enables this feat is our ability to attend to certain details, while neglecting others. Our ability to stay focused on the world around us also wavers, and lapses of attention can contribute to which experiences we ultimately remember or forget. In this work, we build on decades of research into how attention during memory formation affects long-term outcomes. We do so by complementing a basic science approach with investigation of an emerging societal trend -- media multitasking, or habitually consuming multiple streams of media concurrently. Heavier media multitasking has been associated with an array of cognitive differences, including sustaining and directing attention, and forming short- and long-term memories. In Chapter 2, we leverage functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) to measure the neural impact of distraction and its interactions with memory formation. We find a clear detriment to behavioral measures of memory performance, but neural findings suggest that internal distraction or mind blanking may play an important role as well. Specifically, heavy media multitaskers' poorer memory performance may be driven by a hyperactive "bottom-up" attentional network. Thus, in Chapter 3 we employ pupillometry to index attentional lapsing throughout a battery of sustained attention, working, and long-term memory tasks. We find two distinct patterns in our results: pupillary effects on long-term memory performance are associated with those predicting sustained attention task error rates, and media multitasking-related deficits in working memory performance can be accounted for by baseline pupil differences, response times indicating attentional lapses, and relative deficits in sleep duration. Collectively, these findings support the notion that attentional lapsing contributes to in-the-moment failures to encode experiences into lasting memories. Furthermore, individual differences in the ability to build memories of our everyday lives (such as those tracked by media multitasking) may be largely attributable to these lapses.


Type of resource text
Form electronic resource; remote; computer; online resource
Extent 1 online resource.
Place California
Place [Stanford, California]
Publisher [Stanford University]
Copyright date 2019; ©2019
Publication date 2019; 2019
Issuance monographic
Language English


Author Khazenzon, Anna Mikhailovna
Degree supervisor Wagner, Anthony David
Thesis advisor Wagner, Anthony David
Thesis advisor Gardner, Justin, 1971-
Thesis advisor Poldrack, Russell A
Degree committee member Gardner, Justin, 1971-
Degree committee member Poldrack, Russell A
Associated with Stanford University, Department of Psychology.


Genre Theses
Genre Text

Bibliographic information

Statement of responsibility Anna Mikhailovna Khazenzon.
Note Submitted to the Department of Psychology.
Thesis Thesis Ph.D. Stanford University 2019.
Location electronic resource

Access conditions

© 2019 by Anna Mikhailovna Khazenzon
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution Non Commercial 3.0 Unported license (CC BY-NC).

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