Effects of incentive on working memory capacity: Behavioral and pupillometric data
We evaluated the hypothesis that individual differences in working memory capacity are explained by variation in mental effort, persons with low capacity exerting less effort than persons with high capacity. Groups previously rated high and low in working memory capacity performed the reading span task under three levels of incentive. The effort hypothesis holds that low span subjects exert less effort during task performance than do high spans. Subjects' pupil sizes were recorded online during task performance as a measure of mental effort. Both recall performance and pupil diameter were found to be increased under incentives, but were additive with span (incentives increased performance and pupil diameter equivalently for both span groups). Contrary to the effort hypothesis, task‐evoked pupillary responses indicated that if anything, low span subjects exert more effort than do high spans.
Heitz, Richard; Schrock, Josef; Payne, Tabitha; and Engle, Randall, "Effects of incentive on working memory capacity: Behavioral and pupillometric data" (2007). Psychophysiology 45(1): 119-129. Faculty Publications. Paper 79.