Academic journal article Memory & Cognition

Variation in Working Memory Capacity, Fluid Intelligence, and Episodic Recall: A Latent Variable Examination of Differences in the Dynamics of Free Recall

Academic journal article Memory & Cognition

Variation in Working Memory Capacity, Fluid Intelligence, and Episodic Recall: A Latent Variable Examination of Differences in the Dynamics of Free Recall

Article excerpt

A latent variable analysis was conducted to examine the nature of individual differences in the dynamics of free recall and cognitive abilities. Participants performed multiple measures of free recall, working memory capacity (WMC), and fluid intelligence (gF). For each free recall task, recall accuracy, recall latency, and number of intrusion errors were determined, and latent factors were derived for each. It was found that recall accuracy was negatively related to both recall latency and number of intrusions, and recall latency and number of intrusions were positively related. Furthermore, latent WMC and gF factors were positively related to recall accuracy, but negatively related to recall latency and number of intrusions. Finally, a cluster analysis revealed that subgroups of participants with deficits in focusing the search had deficits in recovering degraded representations or deficits in monitoring the products of retrieval. The results are consistent with the idea that variation in the dynamics of free recall, WMC, and gF are primarily due to differences in search set size, but differences in recovery and monitoring are also important.

Free recall, wherein participants are presented with a list of items and are asked to recall the items in any order they wish, is one of the oldest and most heavily studied tasks in memory research (Crowder, 1976; Murdock, 1974; Tulving, 1968). Much previous research has been done on this task, demonstrating how various manipulations, such as list length, presentation rate, word frequency, and distractorfilled delays influence overall performance. In addition, a number of well-developed models have been created in order to explain the nature of free recall (see Raaijmakers & Shiffrin, 1992, for a review). Finally, a number of studies have shown that free recall measures are related to other memory measures and related to other well-known cognitive abilities, such as intelligence (Beier & Ackerman, 2004; Carroll, 1993). As such, this work points to the overall importance of free recall as a measure of memory that has not only constrained theories of memory, but has also been used to assess variation in overall memory performance.

The present study examined the dynamics of free recall at a latent-variable level in order to better understand the processes that drive recall and the nature of individual differences in recall. Recall accuracy, recall latency, and intrusion errors were examined at a latent level to determine the interrelations between different theoretical components of free recall. Specifically, on the basis of search models of free recall, individual differences in constraining the memory search, recovering degraded representations, and monitoring the products of the search were examined. Below, a brief review of search processes and the dynamics of free recall is given, followed by a brief review of individual differences in the dynamics of free recall. Finally, the rationale for the present study is given.

Search Processes and the Dynamics of Free Recall

As noted above, a number of detailed models of free recall have been developed over the last 40 years (Raaijmakers & Shiffrin, 1992). Some of the most successful models of free recall are search models that suggest that retrieval of information from memory involves a competitive search in order to locate the desired information among irrelevant and distracting information. In these search models, it is assumed that, during recall, a retrieval cue activates a subset of representations in memory that are related to the cue in some fashion. This delimited subset is known as the search set, and during recall, item representations are sampled (with replacement) from the search set on the basis of a relative strength rule (Raaijmakers & Shiffrin, 1980; Rohrer, 1996; Shiffrin, 1970b). Specifically, in search models of this type, the probability of sampling any particular item is equal to the strength of the item divided by the sum of all item strengths within the search set. …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.