Cognition in Context

The Cognition in Context program of research examines effects of cellphone-related auditory stimuli on cognitive performance and physiological activation. Research participants complete computer tasks that measure aspects of cognitive functioning such as attentional capture, response time, and accuracy. Physiological measures include heart rate, heart rate variability, and skin conductance. We have studied developmental effects these effects in adolescents, emerging adults, and adults.

Current Study

W&L Puzzles and Brainteasers Study
Data collection was discontinued in February of 2020 for this experiment, which investigates effects of cellphone-related stimuli on cognitive performance in timed, homework-analogous cognitive tasks. Data analyses are in progress.

Past Studies

Whiting, W.L., & Murdock, K.K. (2021). Notification Alert! Effects of auditory text alerts on attention and heart rate variability across three developmental periods. Quarterly Journal of Experimental Psychology, 74, 1900-1913.

This experiment examined effects of cellphone notification sounds on cognitive performance (i.e., reaction time and accuracy on math problems) and heart rate variability in three age groups: adolescents (mean age: 15 years); young adults (mean age: 20 years); and mid-life adults (mean age: 48 years). Effects were most pronounced in the adolescent group, whose math problem accuracy and reaction time was compromised in response to notification sounds. These compromises were accompanied by increases in heart rate variability.

Whiting, W. & Murdock, K.K. (2016). Emerging adults’ sleep patterns and attentional capture: The pivotal role of consistency. Cognitive Processing, 17, 155 – 162.

This short-term longitudinal study investigated associations of undergraduate students’ sleep duration and sleep variability with attentional performance on homework-analogous tasks. Sleep parameters were measured utilizing wristband actigraphy. Consistently low sleep duration was associated with reduced ability to ignore irrelevant cues and redirect attention to target locations.