The visual arrays task: Visual storage capacity or attention control?
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Description: Extant literature suggests that performance on visual arrays tasks reflects limited-capacity storage of visual information. However, there is evidence to suggest that visual arrays task performance also reflects individual differences in controlled processing. The purpose of this paper is to empirically evaluate the degree to which visual arrays tasks are more closely related to memory storage capacity or measures of attention control. To this end, we conducted new analyses on a series of large data sets that incorporate various versions of a visual arrays task. Based on these analyses, we conclude that the degree to which the visual arrays is related to memory storage ability or effortful attention control is task-dependent. Specifically, when versions of the task require participants to ignore elements of the target display, visual arrays task performance is largely driven by individual variation in attention control rather than memory storage capacity per se. Therefore, at least some versions of the visual arrays tasks can be used as valid indicators of individual differences in attention control.