Why are reasoning ability and working memory capacity related to mental speed? An investigation of stimulus-response compatibility in choice reaction time tasks
A study with 114 young adults investigated the correlations of intelligence factors and working-memory capacity with reaction time (RT) tasks. Within two sets of four-choice RT tasks, stimulus–response compatibility was varied over three levels: compatible, incompatible, and arbitrary mappings. Two satisfactory measurement models for the RTs could be established: A general factor model without constraints on the loadings and a nested model with two correlated factors, distinguishing compatible from arbitrary mappings, with constraints on the loadings. Structural models additionally including factors for working memory and intelligence showed that the nested model with correlated factors is superior in fit. Working-memory capacity and fluid intelligence were correlated strongly with the nested factor for the RT tasks with arbitrary mappings, and less with the general RT factor. The results support the hypothesis that working memory is needed to maintain arbitrary bindings between stimulus representations and response representations, and this could explain the correlation of working-memory capacity with speed in choice RT tasks.
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