Effects of attention during encoding on sex differences in object location memory

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Abstract

Attention plays a key role in memory processes and has been widely studied in various memory tasks. The role of attention in sex differences in object location memory is not clearly understood. In the present study, two experiments involving 186 participants and using an object array presented on paper were conducted to examine two encoding conditions: incidental and intentional. In each experiment, the participants were randomly assigned to divided versus full attention conditions. In the first experiment, which involved incidental encoding, women outperformed men in memorising location-exchanged objects in both the full and in the divided attention condition. In the second experiment, which involved intentional encoding, women outperformed men in memorising location-exchanged objects in the full attention condition, but not the divided attention condition. These findings deepen our knowledge regarding the role of attention in object location memory, specifically in terms of the conditions under which females have an advantage for detecting changes in an array of objects.

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