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Scoring Alternatives for Mental Speed Tests: Measurement Issues and Validity for Working Memory Capacity and the Attentional Blink Effect

Institute of Psychology, Ulm University, Albert-Einstein Allee 47, 89081 Ulm, Germany
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Received: 11 July 2018 / Revised: 6 October 2018 / Accepted: 11 October 2018 / Published: 15 October 2018
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Cognitive Models in Intelligence Research)
Research suggests that the relation of mental speed with working memory capacity (WMC) depends on complexity and scoring methods of speed tasks and the type of task used to assess capacity limits in working memory. In the present study, we included conventional binding/updating measures of WMC as well as rapid serial visual presentation paradigms. The latter allowed for a computation of the attentional blink (AB) effect that was argued to measure capacity limitations at the encoding stage of working memory. Mental speed was assessed with a set of tasks and scored by diverse methods, including response time (RT) based scores, as well as ex-Gaussian and diffusion model parameterization. Relations of latent factors were investigated using structure equation modeling techniques. RT-based scores of mental speed yielded substantial correlations with WMC but only weak relations with the AB effect, while WMC and the AB magnitude were independent. The strength of the speed-WMC relation was shown to depend on task type. Additionally, the increase in predictive validity across RT quantiles changed across task types, suggesting that the worst performance rule (WPR) depends on task characteristics. In contrast to the latter, relations of speed with the AB effect did not change across RT quantiles. Relations of the model parameters were consistently found for the ex-Gaussian tau parameter and the diffusion model drift rate. However, depending on task type, other parameters showed plausible relations as well. The finding that characteristics of mental speed tasks determined the overall strength of relations with WMC, the occurrence of a WPR effect, and the specific pattern of relations of model parameters, implies that mental speed tasks are not exchangeable measurement tools. In spite of reflecting a general factor of mental speed, different speed tasks possess different requirements, supporting the notion of mental speed as a hierarchical construct. View Full-Text
Keywords: mental speed; working memory capacity; attentional blink; response time modeling mental speed; working memory capacity; attentional blink; response time modeling
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Schmitz, F.; Rotter, D.; Wilhelm, O. Scoring Alternatives for Mental Speed Tests: Measurement Issues and Validity for Working Memory Capacity and the Attentional Blink Effect. J. Intell. 2018, 6, 47.

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