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Limited Performance in Dual-Task-Situations

The question of whether information can be retrieved from memory concurrently to other cognitive processes is an important issue in cognitive psychology. Rico Fischer pursued this question by investigating whether people can access information in memory in one task while being occupied processing a different task.

The results generally favour the interpretation that semantic memory retrieval processes in dual-tasks require access to central capacity resources and are thus subject to attentional capacity limitations. This means that if Task 1. processing accesses the bottleneck stage, the retrieval of semantic Task 2 memory information is delayed until Task 1 bottleneck stage processing is completed.

In other words, in a dual-task context access to high level representation in memory is affected by additional task performance. The fact that the activation of semantic memory content is delayed in high load conditions of a dual-task situation is not only of theoretical value, but may also bear some important practical implications, Rico Fischer explains. The results can be taken as support for the statutory decision to prohibit the usage of mobile phones while driving.