Relationship between attentional processing and working memory : an eye-tracking study

Indrarathne, Bimali and Kormos, Judit (2017) Relationship between attentional processing and working memory : an eye-tracking study. In: AAAL Conference 2017, 2017-03-18 - 2017-03-21, Portland Marriot.

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Cognitive processes such as attention and awareness associated with language learning are also closely related to working memory (WM) functions and thus WM is said to be influential in language learning. The aims of the study reported in this presentation were to investigate how attention paid to target items (causative ‘had’) in written L2 input is related to the functioning of WM including both phonological loop and central executive and how WM is related to the change of knowledge of the target grammatical construction. These questions have been investigated in a study with the participation of 100 undergraduate L2 learners of English at a Sri Lankan university. The capacity of phonological loop was measured through a forward digit-span test and three functions of the central executive were measured through a keep-track (updating), a plus-minus (switching) and a stroop (inhibition) task. A comparison of post-test and pre-test scores on a sentence reconstruction (SR) and a grammaticality judgment (GJ) tasks was performed to measure the improvement of knowledge of the target construction. Data on the amount of attention paid were collected through eye-tracking and total fixation duration (TFD) and the difference between observed and expected total fixation duration (DOE) were considered as measures of the attention paid to target items. Medium significant correlations were observed between digit span, keep-track and stroop tasks and TFD and DOE values. Large significant correlations were observed between digit-span and keep-track tasks and both SR and GJ gain scores. A medium significant correlation between SR and GJ gain scores and stroop task was also observed. The findings indicate that the attention paid to L2 input by learners depends on their WM capacity and consequently their language development is influenced by the functions of phonological loop and updating and inhibition functions of the central executive.

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Contribution to Conference (Other)
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AAAL Conference 2017
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06 Oct 2017 20:17
Last Modified:
08 Nov 2023 00:21