Graduation Year


Document Type




Degree Name

Master of Arts (M.A.)

Degree Granting Department


Major Professor

Ken Malmberg, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Chad Dubé, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Geoff Potts, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Jamie Goldenberg, Ph.D.


context, episodic, List-Strength Effect, memory


How environmental information stores in memory directly affects our ability to retrieve the information. This thesis investigates the effects that dividing attention during study has on the storage of contextual information. Through several experiments, participants were asked to study and later recall word lists using a mixed-pure design with strengtheners varying as either repetition or study time. Experiment 1 investigates the effects of divided attention on the formation of inter-item associations and Experiments 2-6 manipulate strengthening item and context information in a memory trace when cognitive load is strained at various levels. Experimental results indicated that dividing attention during study impairs the ability of a subject to form inter-item associations and additionally dampens the ability to store trace information that can be successfully retrieved later. However, there was promising evidence showing that reducing the perceived predictability of study may help prevent against the effects of divided attention and create strong independent traces in both full and divided attention conditions.