The Keep Track Task measures the cognitive process of updating and monitoring working memory. In each trial, participants are first presented with a set of categories. Possible categories include: (1) animals, (2) colors, (3) countries, (4) distances, (5) metals, and (6) relatives. Next, target categories remain at the bottom of the screen, and 15 words are presented sequentially. These words are exemplars from the six possible categories, with 2-3 words from each category. Participants are required to remember the last (most recent) word presented for each of the target categories, and to write them down at the end of the trial. For example, if one of the target categories is “color” and participants first see “yellow” and then, later, “blue” (and no other color words), they are supposed to write down “blue” at the end of the trial. The dependent measure is the proportion of words the participant identifies correctly.
The Keep Track Task, which is adapted from Yntema (1963), measures the ability to update working memory through a process of remembering, then forgetting and updating the target word in memory (Miyake et al., 2000). The ability to update working memory by attending to relevant information, and forgetting irrelevant information, is a core component of executive function, and is important to consider as it relates to self-regulation and goal pursuit. Some have proposed, for example, that working memory capacity and the ability to maintain working memory while disregarding irrelevant information is related to behavior that is in line with conscious goals (i.e. goal-directed behavior) rather than acting on impulse, and demonstrated this effect across a series of behaviors (e.g., the ability to resist eating chocolate candies (Hofmann, Gschwendner, Frises, Wiers, & Schmitt, 2008). Parsing the specific components of working memory as they relate to behavior would shed light on underlying cognitive mechanisms, which could in turn illuminate avenues for targeted behavior-change interventions.
[+] PMCID, PUBMED ID, or CITATION
Text Citation: Hofmann, W., Gschwendner, T., Friese, M., Wiers, R. W., & Schmitt, M. (2008). Working memory capacity and self-regulatory behavior: toward an individual differences perspective on behavior determination by automatic versus controlled processes. Journal of personality and social psychology, 95(4), 962.
Text Citation: Miyake, A., Friedman, N. P., Emerson, M. J., Witzki, A. H., Howerter, A., & Wager, T. D. (2000). The unity and diversity of executive functions and their contributions to complex “frontal lobe” tasks: A latent variable analysis. Cognitive psychology, 41(1), 49-100.
Text Citation: Yntema, D. B. (1963). Keeping track of several things at once. Human Factors, 5, 7–17.
This measure has not been measured yet.
This measure has not been influenced yet.
This measure has not been validated yet.
The Science of Behavior Change (SOBC) program seeks to promote basic research on the initiation, personalization and maintenance of behavior change. By integrating work across disciplines, this effort will lead to an improved understanding of the underlying principles of behavior change. The SOBC program aims to implement a mechanisms-focused, experimental medicine approach to behavior change research and to develop the tools required to implement such an approach. The experimental medicine approach involves: identifying an intervention target, developing measures to permit verification of the target, engaging the target through experimentation or intervention, and testing the degree to which target engagement produces the desired behavior change.
Within the SOBC Measures Repository, researchers have access to measures of mechanistic targets that have been (or are in the processing of being) validated by SOBC Research Network Members and other experts in the field. The SOBC Validation Process includes three important stages of evaluation for each proposed measure: Identification, Measurement, and Influence.
The first stage of validation requires a measure to be Identified within the field; there must be theoretical support for the specific measure of the proposed mechanistic target or potential mechanism of behavior change. This evidence may include references for the proposed measure, or theoretical support for the construct that the proposed measure is intended to assess. The second stage of validation requires demonstration that the level and change in level of the chosen mechanistic target can be Measured with the proposed measure (assay). For example, if the proposed measure is a questionnaire, the score on the measure should indicate the activity of the target process, and it must have strong psychometric properties. The third stage of validation requires demonstration that the measure can be Influenced; there must be evidence that the measured target is malleable and responsive to manipulation. Evidence relating to each stage includes at least one peer-reviewed publication or original data presentation (if no peer-reviewed research is available to support the claim) and is evaluated by SOBC Research Network Members and experts in the field.
Once a measure has gone through these three stages, it will then either be Validated or Not validated according to SOBC Research Network standards. If a measure is Validated, then change in the measured target was reliably associated with Behavior Change. If a measure is Not validated, then change in the measured target was not reliably associated with Behavior Change. Why would we share measures that are not validated? The SOBC Research Network values open, rigorous, and transparent research. Our goal is to make meaningful progress and develop replicable and effective interventions in behavior change science. Therefore, the SOBC sees value in providing other researchers in the field with information regarding measures that work and measures that fall short for specific targets. Further, a measure that is not validated for one target in one population may be validated in another target or population.
Want to learn more? For any questions regarding the SOBC Validation Process or Measures Repository, please email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Has the mechanism been identified as a potential target for behavior change? This section summarizes theoretical support for the mechanism.
Have the psychometric properties of this measure been assessed? This section includes information such as content validity, internal consistency, and test-retest reliability.
Has a study manipulation led to change in the mechanism? This section addresses evidence that this measure is modifiable by experimental manipulation or clinical intervention.
Has a change in this mechanism been associated with behavior change? This section addresses empirical evidence that causing change in the measure reliably produces subsequent behavior change.