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University of British Columbia
BIOL 140
Chin Sun

1 External visual distraction reduces retrieval performance UBC Student #:19418136 Word Count: 1191 The ability to remain focused and retrieve information in the presence of irrelevant environmental stimuli can prove to be quite challenging. Irrelevant visual stimulus demands us to divide our attention and makes it harder for us to focus on our given tasks, whether it may be recognition or recollection. Recollection can be considered a higher-order cognitive process compared to recognition as it requires us to retrieve previously learnt material from long term memory. Cognitive performance is dependent on the success of the process of filtering undesirable incoming information (Wais, Rubens, Boccanfuso, & Gazzaley, 2010). In the case of retrieval, we will find that fewer options are available for filtering unsolicited incoming information in the midst of the process leading to a negative impact on the retrieval performance. The impact of irrelevant visual stimulus on recollection performance is a contentious issue and extensive research has been conducted to clarify the issue. In order to better interpret the effect of irrelevant visual stimulus on the performance of recollection, the underlying cognitive mechanisms involved in the process and possible means of filtration have to be understood fully. Visual Distraction creates a strain in our lives and affects our goal-directed behavior. Irrelevant visual stimuli can range from watching television, a cat passing by or simply, any visual stimuli unrelated to the events of memory, one is attempting to retrieve. Distraction of higher load can even lead to confusion and if coupled with a high order cognitive process, like recollection, could have a huge impact on the performance of retrieval(Lavie, 2005).Simply instructing our brains to focus on retrieval alone is not sufficient to achieve the best performance results of retrieval. Higher load of distraction is found to lead fewer correct and more incorrect visual and auditory details being recalled according to a study by Perfect ,Andrade, & Syrett (2012) . To demonstrate , in the experiment, screening an intricate, moving image resulted in the reduction of accurately recalled target words compared to viewing a static image. In an effort to fully understand irrelevant visual interference during retrieval process, various researches have been executed to determine what regions of the brain the distraction is interfering. An experiment carried out by Wais and his colleagues strive to explain the underlying mechanisms involved in the interference of the cognitive process( Wais,, 2010).The experiment was divided into two parts behavioral responses to interference on recollection performance and FMRI (Functional Magnetic 2 Resonance Imaging) . The results of the behavioral experiment revealed that the presence of irrelevant visual stimuli weakened the performance of the recollection (e.g. fewer correct items being recalled) which provides support for the hypothesis of visual interference's negative impact on retrieval performance. The decrease in performance is further explained in neural mechanism terms, whereby, the results are associated with the interference of functional connectivity concerning the left inferior frontal gyrus, hippocampus, and visual association cortex of the brain .The network connectivity of the aforementioned parts of the brain are stipulated to be in support of the recollection when irrelevant stimuli was absent and found to decline in activity when irrelevant visual distraction was present. Furthermore, bottom up (i.e. process guided by input) strains are found to be conflicting with top-down selection ( i.e. process guided by higher level cognitive processes) of previously learnt information , both of which are moderated by a space- limited frontal control region leading to a decrease in the performance of recollection. Interestingly, recollection is found to use visual imagery. Previous studies usin
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