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An Empirical Examination of Secondary Task Reaction Times: Testing What They Really Measure
Unformatted Document Text:  What do STRTs Measure? 1 the message, thus increasing available resources. According to this view, global complexity determines the number of resources allocated to the attention task, and the content/structure of the message determines the number of resources required to process the message (Lang and Basil, 1998). Thus their model suggests that STRT is an indicator of available resources, specifically it indexes those resources made available to the cognitive subprocesses of encoding a message not needed to process the message. In other words, the structural features in globally complex messages elicit a large allocation of resources and the demands for resources made by the ongoing processing and storage of messages to encoding, but because many of those structural features do not require many resources to be processed, an over allocation of resources results (Lang and Basil, 1998, p. 458). Lang and Basil (1998) define available resources as the resources “allocated to the message (which is increasing) minus the resources required by the message” (p. 460). If the resources required are less than the resources allocated, the available resources in global complex video messages may very well increase. Thus, there would be more resources available during complex messages compared to simple messages, and if this occurs as the reaction times will be faster during global video complex messages. Studies investigating the effects of global and local video complexity suggest a way to directly test this model. Lang et al. (1999) found that cuts (i.e., change from one scene to an unrelated scene) in television programming automatically allocated resources to encoding. As the number of unrelated cuts increases, more attentional capacity is called to encoding. This resulted in a curvilinear effect on recognition (here an index of encoding) such that recognition improves from slow to medium-paced messages but decreases from medium to fast-paced messages, suggesting an overload.

Authors: Bradley, Samuel., Lang, Annie., Haverhals, Leah. and Shin, Mija.
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What do STRTs Measure? 1
the message, thus increasing available resources. According to this view, global complexity
determines the number of resources allocated to the attention task, and the content/structure of
the message determines the number of resources required to process the message (Lang and
Basil, 1998). Thus their model suggests that STRT is an indicator of available resources,
specifically it indexes those resources made available to the cognitive subprocesses of encoding
a message not needed to process the message. In other words, the structural features in globally
complex messages elicit a large allocation of resources and the demands for resources made by
the ongoing processing and storage of messages to encoding, but because many of those
structural features do not require many resources to be processed, an over allocation of resources
results (Lang and Basil, 1998, p. 458).
Lang and Basil (1998) define available resources as the resources “allocated to the
message (which is increasing) minus the resources required by the message” (p. 460). If the
resources required are less than the resources allocated, the available resources in global complex
video messages may very well increase. Thus, there would be more resources available during
complex messages compared to simple messages, and if this occurs as the reaction times will be
faster during global video complex messages.
Studies investigating the effects of global and local video complexity suggest a way to
directly test this model. Lang et al. (1999) found that cuts (i.e., change from one scene to an
unrelated scene) in television programming automatically allocated resources to encoding. As the
number of unrelated cuts increases, more attentional capacity is called to encoding. This resulted
in a curvilinear effect on recognition (here an index of encoding) such that recognition improves
from slow to medium-paced messages but decreases from medium to fast-paced messages,
suggesting an overload.


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