Education and Human Sciences, College of (CEHS)


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A THESIS Presented to the Faculty of The Graduate College at the University of Nebraska In Partial Fulfillment of Requirements For the Degree of Master of Arts, Major: Educational Psychology, Under the Supervision of Professor Eric Buhs. Lincoln, Nebraska: August, 2012

Copyright (c) 2012 Brian A. Keiser


Spatial attention appears to act as a rehearsal mechanism in spatial working memory (Awh, 1999; Awh & Jonides, 2001) as adults have trouble maintaining spatial information in their mind when required to shift their attention to locations unrelated to the to-be-retained location. Futhermore, adults increase intentional directed attention to the to-be remembered location when warned ahead of time that distractors will be present during the memory delay (Awh, 2003). Our initial study looked at the presence of a distractor and its impacts on spatial working memory in children. We found that the distractor did impact three and six year old memory of target locations, but not four and five year olds. There are two goals for the current study. First, we wanted to replicate the results of our initial study where the presence of a distractor had an impact on the spatial working memory performance of three and six year olds leading them to make errors on trials when the distractor was present. Secondly, we want to see if the amount of time the distractor is on will lead to larger errors in the present age groups. We hypothesized that the longer the distractor remains on the more it will be associated with larger errors than in previous studies. The first goal of our initial study was confirmed because the errors made by the three and six year olds were replicated. We found that there was no effect of distractor duration on age but distractor location was still significant for making errors towards or away from the distractor location.

Adviser: Eric Buhs