Why do attention and working memory fail us when we need them most?

Attention and working memory are limited in capacity. Factors that hijack attention away from the task-at-hand and/or overload working memory lead to their suboptimal functioning.  While critical for surviving and thriving, our findings suggest that attention and working memory are fragile and vulnerable to degradation due to a variety of factors such as affective distraction (e.g., Paczynski et al., 2015, Witkin et al., 2019), mind wandering (e.g., Krimsky et al., 2017, Denkova et al., 2018), aging (Zanesco et al., 2021), PTSD (Witkin et al., 2021), and protracted periods of high stress and high demand (e.g., Jha et al.,  2010; 2020). Our current projects on this topic aim to determine if there are qualities such as individual differences in decentering that may protect against such vulnerabilities.

Presentations & Publications