Academic journal article Memory & Cognition

Can the Effects of Temporal Grouping Explain the Similarities and Differences between Free Recall and Serial Recall?

Academic journal article Memory & Cognition

Can the Effects of Temporal Grouping Explain the Similarities and Differences between Free Recall and Serial Recall?

Article excerpt

Published online: 21 October 2014

© Psychonomic Society, Inc. 2014

Abstract Temporal grouping can provide a principled explanation for changes in the serial position curves and output orders that occur with increasing list length in immediate free recall (IFR) and immediate serial recall (ISR). To test these claims, we examined the effects of temporal grouping on the order of recall in IFR and ISR of lists of between one and 12 words. Consistent with prior research, there were significant effects of temporal grouping in the ISR task with mid-length lists using serial recall scoring, and no overall grouping advantage in the IFR task with longer list lengths using free recall scoring. In all conditions, there was a general tendency to initiate recall with either the first list item or with one of the last four items, and then to recall in a forward serial order. In the grouped IFR conditions, when participants started with one of the last four words, there were particularly heightened tendencies to initiate recall with the first item of the most recent group. Moreover, there was an increased degree of forward-ordered transitions within groups than across groups in IFR. These findings are broadly consistent with Farrell's model, in which lists of items in immediate memory are parsed into distinct groups and participants initiate recall with the first item of a chosen cluster, but also highlight shortcomings of that model. The data support the claim that grouping may offer an important element in the theoretical integration of IFR and ISR.

Keywords Working memory . Free recall . Serial recall . Grouping . Clustering

Immediate free recall (IFR) and immediate serial recall (ISR) are two widely used and theoretically important immediate memory tasks that have been highly influential in the development of accounts of short-term memory (e.g., Atkinson & Shiffrin, 1971; Glanzer, 1972) and working memory (e.g., Baddeley, 1986; Baddeley & Hitch, 1974), respectively. The over-arching aim of this paper is to explore whether temporal clustering can provide a principled explanation for the observed similarities and differences across the two tasks, thus offering important constraints on potential theoretical integration of these different research domains.

In tests of IFR (e.g., Murdock, 1962), participants are typically presented with a series of 10-40 words one at a time; at the end of the list, participants try to remember as many of the words as they can, and are free to recall these words in any order that they wish. In such tests, participants tend to show (1) enhanced recall of the most recent items, the recency effect, which is often attributed to the direct output of the contents of short-term memory, and (2) enhanced recall of the earliest list items, the primacy effect, which is often attributed to the strengthening of associations involving these words in longterm memory following their selective rehearsal (e.g., Rundus, 1971). Early accounts proposing a distinction between shortterm (or primary) memory and long-term (or secondary) memory relied heavily on data from IFR (e.g., Atkinson & Shiffrin, 1971; Waugh & Norman, 1965).

In tests of ISR (e.g., Crannell & Parrish, 1957; Miller, 1956), participants are typically presented with shorter lists of 5-8 items; at the end of the list, participants are required to recall the items in the same serial order as they had been presented. Early studies recognized a capacity limit, referred to as the memory span, which refers to the maximum number of items that could be repeated back exactly in the same order on half the trials. Capacity limits have provided important empirical evidence for understanding short-term (Broadbent, 1975;Miller,1956) and working (e.g., Cowan, 2000, 2005) memory. The fact that the memory span was later found to be sensitive to the phonological similarity (Baddeley, 1966)and the syllable length of the words in the list (Baddeley, Thomson, & Buchanan, 1975) has also been central in underpinning the proposed Phonological Loop component of working memory (e. …

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.