Date of Award

Fall 2019

Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)



Committee Director

Mark W. Scerbo

Committee Member

Jeremiah D. Still

Committee Member

Robin Lewis


Interruptions are a common problem for attention and pose a threat to visual task performance. The Memory for Goals (MFG) theory suggests that strongly and accurately encoded cues can assist the ability to resume a primary task after an interruption (Altmann & Trafton, 2002). Encoded cues can undergo an activation decay during an interruption and become forgotten. Currently, there has been limited research on how visual interruptions affect cued recall within a dynamic environment. Thus, the goal of the present study was to examine the effect of cuing and task interruptions on change detection within dynamic scenes. Undergraduate students watched 24 videos (12 with interruptions and 12 without) and answered general questions about the scene. Of the 24 videos, 8 contained a single object that underwent a perceptual feature change in color, brightness, appearance, or disappearance. Participants were assigned to one of three cueing conditions (reliable, unreliable, or no cue). It was predicted that the reliable cue group would report more changes than the unreliable and no cue groups. It was also predicted that more changes would be detected within uninterrupted than interrupted trials. Findings from the present study supported most of these predictions. Participants correctly detected more object changes during uninterrupted trials. Additionally, the reliable cue group correctly detected more object changes during uninterrupted trials. However, providing reliable cues had no effect when interruptions were present. Overall, these results support the MFG theory suggesting that visual interruptions may have allowed the encoded cues to decay resulting in poorer change detection performance compared to uninterrupted viewing conditions.


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