Academic journal article Memory & Cognition

Between-List Lag Effects in Recall Depend on Retention Interval

Academic journal article Memory & Cognition

Between-List Lag Effects in Recall Depend on Retention Interval

Article excerpt

Published online: 19 March 2014

# Psychonomic Society, Inc. 2014

Abstract Although the benefits of spaced retrieval for long-term retention are well established, the majority of this work has involved spacing over relatively short intervals (on the order of seconds or minutes). In the present experiments, we evaluated the effectiveness of spaced retrieval across relatively short intervals (within a single session), as compared to longer intervals (between sessions spaced a day apart), for long-term retention (i.e., one day or one week). Across a series of seven experiments, participants (N = 536) learned paired associates to a criterion of 70 % accuracy and then received one test-feedback trial for each item. The test-feedback trial occurred within 10 min of reaching criterion (short lag) or one day later (long lag). Then, a final test occurred one day (Exps. 1-3) or one week (Exps. 4 and 5) after the test-feedback trial. Across the different materials and methods in Experiments 1-3, we found little benefit for the long-lag relative to the short-lag schedule in final recall performance-that is, no lag effect-but large effects on the retention of information from the test-feedback to the final test phase. The results from the experiments with the one-week retention interval (Exps. 4 and 5) indicated a benefit of the long-lag schedule on final recall performance (a lag effect), as well as on retention. This research shows that even when the benefits of lag are eliminated at a (relatively long) one-day retention interval, the lag effect reemerges after a one-week retention interval. The results are interpreted within an extension of the bifurcation model to the spacing effect.

Keywords Memory . Recall . Spacing effects . Lag effects

Psychologists have studied dozens of variables that affect learn- ing and retention, but the distribution or spacing of practice is one of the most venerable and well documented. Seminal work by Ebbinghaus (1885/1913) demonstrated the powerful effects of spacing learning events, showing enhanced performance when practice trials are spaced across time and/or other materials (i.e., spaced practice) as compared to when they occur consecu- tively (i.e., massed practice). In subsequent years, hundreds of studies have documented the memorial benefits of spacing (commonly referred to as the spacing effect; for reviews, see Cepeda, Pashler, Vul, Wixted, & Rohrer, 2006;Crowder,1976; Donovan & Radosevich, 1999; Greene, 2008). Spacing effects have been documented across the lifespan (e.g., Balota, Duchek, & Paullin, 1989; Kornell, Castel, Eich, & Bjork, 2010; Sobel, Cepeda, & Kapler, 2011; Toppino, Fearnow-Kenney, Kiepert, & Teremula, 2009), across species (e.g., Robbins & Bush, 1973; Tully, Preat, Boyton, & Del Vecchio, 1994),andinpatient populations (e.g., Balota et al., 2006; Goverover, Basso, Wood, Chiaravalloti, & DeLuca, 2011).

The most common spacing effect paradigm in the tradition of research with humans involves presenting participants a list of to-be-learned items-words, pictures or other events- some of which are repeated and others not. In one standard comparison, researchers include two types of repeated items: those massed and those distributed or spaced (e.g., Madigan, 1969; Melton, 1967, 1970). In a massed presentation condi- tion, the second study event occurs immediately after the first presentation, whereas in a spaced presentation condition the second study event occurs after some intervening amount of time and/or intervening number of items (e.g., after five other items). The general finding is that performance on a later retention test is higher for items that are spaced relative to those that are massed (the spacing effect). Within a spaced condition, a further manipulation is to vary the lag or spacing of items (e.g., 1, 3, 5, 10, or 20 items between repetitions). When lag affects performance, this is referred to as the lag effect (i. …

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