Klaus Oberauer

Klaus Oberauer
University of Zurich | UZH · Psychologisches Institut

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280
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Publications

Publications (280)
Article
Full-text available
Despite over a century of research on intelligence, the cognitive processes underlying intelligent behavior are still unclear. In this review, we summarize empirical results investigating the contribution of cognitive processes associated with working memory capacity, processing speed, and executive processes to intelligence differences. Specifical...
Article
Some theorists argue that working memory is limited to a discrete number of items and that additional items are not encoded at all. Adam et al. (2017) presented evidence supporting this hypothesis: Participants reproduced visual features of up to six items in a self-chosen order. After the third or fourth response, error distributions were indistin...
Article
How does the intent to remember or forget information affect working memory (WM)? To explore this question, in four experiments, we gauged the availability of the to-be-forgotten information directly. Participants remembered six words presented sequentially in separate frames. After each word offset, the frame turned either blue or orange, indicati...
Article
Repeated exposure is assumed to promote long-term learning. This is demonstrated by the so-called "Hebb-effect": when short lists of verbal or spatial materials are presented sequentially for an immediate serial recall test, recall improves with list repetition. This repetition benefit, however, is not ubiquitous. Previous studies found little or n...
Article
Mixed models are gaining popularity in psychology. For frequentist mixed models, previous research showed that excluding random slopes-differences between individuals in the direction and size of an effect-from a model when they are in the data can lead to a substantial increase in false-positive conclusions in null-hypothesis tests. Here, I demons...
Article
Mixed models are gaining popularity in psychology. For frequentist mixed models, previous research showed that excluding random slopes—differences between individuals in the direction and size of an effect—from a model when they are in the data can lead to a substantial increase in false-positive conclusions in null-hypothesis tests. Here, I demons...
Preprint
Full-text available
Repeated exposure is assumed to promote long-term learning. This is demonstrated by the so-called “Hebb-effect”: when short lists of verbal or spatial materials are presented sequentially for an immediate serial recall test, recall improves with list repetition. This repetition benefit, however, is not ubiquitous. Previous studies found little or n...
Article
Most studies of visual-working memory employ one of two experimental paradigms: change-detection or continuous-stimulus reproduction. In this study, we extended the Interference Model (IM; Oberauer & Lin, 2017), which was designed for continuous reproduction, to the single-probe change-detection task. In continuous reproduction, participants occasi...
Article
Full-text available
Novelty-gated encoding is the assumption that events are encoded more strongly into memory when they are more novel in comparison to previously encoded events. It is a core assumption of the SOB model of serial recall (Farrell & Lewandowsky, 2002). We present three experiments testing some predictions from novelty-gated encoding. Experiment 1 shows...
Preprint
Working memory performance is often assumed to benefit from different maintenance control strategies such as rehearsal, refreshing, elaboration, and grouping. In studies assessing strategy self-reports, some strategies were indeed associated with better recall. Nevertheless, experimental studies assessing the effect of instructing maintenance strat...
Article
Updating is the executive function (EF) previously found to most strongly relate to higher cognitive abilities such as reasoning. However, this relationship could be a methodological artifact: Measures of other EFs (i.e., inhibition and shifting) usually isolate the contribution of EF, whereas updating is measured by overall accuracy in working mem...
Preprint
This work investigates how people make judgements about the content of their visual working memory (VWM). Some studies on long-term memory suggest that people base those metacognitive judgements on the outcome of a retrieval attempt. In contrast, Son and Metcalfe (2005) observed that people identify poorly remembered items immediately, presumably b...
Article
Full-text available
People are able to prioritize more valuable information in working memory. The current study examined whether this value effect is due to the items of greater value being refreshed more than lower-value items during maintenance. To assess this possibility, we combined a probe value manipulation with a guided-refreshing procedure. Arrays of colored...
Article
Full-text available
The Hebb repetition effect on serial-recall task refers to the improvement in the accuracy of recall of a repeated list (e.g., repeated in every 3 trials) over random non-repeated lists. Previous research has shown that both temporal position and neighboring items need to be the same on each repetition list for the Hebb repetition effect to occur,...
Preprint
Full-text available
Some theorists argue that working memory is limited to a discrete number of items, and additional items are not encoded at all. Others assume that all items are represented with variable quality. Adam, Vogel, and Awh (2017) presented evidence supporting the item-limit hypothesis: Participants reproduced visual features of up to six items in a self-...
Preprint
Mixed models are gaining popularity in psychology. For frequentist mixed models, Barr, Levy, Scheepers, and Tily (2013) showed that excluding random slopes – differences between individuals in the direction and size of an effect – from a model when they are in the data can lead to a substantial increase in false-positive conclusions in null-hypothe...
Preprint
Full-text available
How does the intent to remember or forget information affect working memory (WM)? To explore this question, in four experiments, we gauged the availability of the to-be-forgotten information directly. Participants remembered six words presented sequentially in separate frames. After each word offset, the frame turned either blue or orange, indicati...
Article
We show that the intention to remember information substantially improves recall of that information when maintained in working memory (WM), whereas it does not have the same effect on maintenance in episodic long-term memory (LTM). In eight experiments, participants processed lists of words according to a semantic orienting task in three instructi...
Article
Several measurement models have been proposed for data from the continuous-reproduction paradigm for studying visual working memory (WM): The original mixture model (Zhang & Luck, 2008) and its extension (Bays et al., 2009); the interference measurement model (IMM; Oberauer et al., 2017), and the target confusability competition (TCC) model (Schurg...
Article
When encoding task-relevant information in working memory (WM), we can use prior knowledge to facilitate task performance. For instance, when memorizing a phone number, we can benefit from recognizing some parts as known chunks (e.g., 911) and focus on memorizing the novel parts. Prior knowledge from long-term memory (LTM), however, can also proact...
Preprint
Full-text available
People are able to prioritize more valuable information in working memory. The current study examined whether this value effect is due to the more valuable items being refreshed more frequently or for a longer period of time than the other items during maintenance. To assess this possibility, we combined a probe value manipulation with a guided-ref...
Article
Full-text available
Giving people more time to process information in working memory improves their performance on working memory tasks. It is often assumed that free time given after presentation of an item enables maintenance processes to counteract forgetting of this item, suggesting that time has a retroactive benefit. Two other hypotheses—short-term consolidation...
Article
Some scientific propositions are so well established that they are no longer debated by the relevant scientific community, such as the fact that greenhouse gas emissions are altering the Earth's climate. In many cases, such scientifically settled issues are nonetheless rejected by segments of the public. U.S. surveys have repeatedly shown that the...
Article
Full-text available
In tests of working memory with verbal or spatial materials repeating the same memory sets across trials leads to improved memory performance. This well-established “Hebb repetition effect” could not be shown for visual materials in previous research. The absence of the Hebb effect can be explained in two ways: Either persons fail to acquire a long...
Preprint
The Binding Hypothesis of working memory (WM) is that WM capacity is limited by interference between bindings but not items. It implies the prediction that with increasing set size, memory for bindings should decline, whereas memory for items should be (largely) unimpaired. Here we test the binding hypothesis for bindings between words and pictures...
Article
Full-text available
There is a strong relationship between fluid intelligence and working memory capacity (WMC). Yet, the cognitive mechanisms underlying this relationship remain elusive. The capacity hypothesis states that this relationship is due to limitations in the amount of information that can be stored and held active in working memory. Previous research aimed...
Preprint
Full-text available
Attentional control refers to the ability to maintain and implement a goal and goal-relevant information when facing distraction. So far, previous research has failed to substantiate strong evidence for a psychometric construct of attentional control. This has been argued to result from two methodological shortcomings: (a) the neglect of individual...
Preprint
Full-text available
Several measurement models have been proposed for data from the continuous-reproduction paradigm for studying visual working memory: The original mixture model (Zhang & Luck, 2008) and its extension (Bays, Catalao, & Husain, 2009); the interference measurement model (Oberauer, Stoneking, Wabersich, & Lin, 2017), and the target confusability competi...
Preprint
Full-text available
Increasing time to process information in working memory (WM) improves performance. Free time given after an item is often assumed to enable maintenance processes to counteract forgetting of this item, suggesting that time has a retroactive benefit. Two other hypotheses – short-term consolidation, and temporal distinctiveness – entail a local effec...
Article
Full-text available
Free time to attend to and process information in working memory is key in promoting immediate and delayed retention. One candidate process to cause this benefit is elaboration. We conducted three experiments with young adults – two of which included older adults – to investigate whether free time is used for elaboration, and whether elaboration ca...
Preprint
Full-text available
In tests of working memory with verbal or spatial materials repeating the same memory sets across trials leads to improved memory performance. This well-established “Hebb repetition effect” could not be shown for visual materials in previous research. The absence of the Hebb effect can be explained in two ways: Either persons fail to acquire a long...
Preprint
There is a strong relationship between fluid intelligence and working memory capacity (WMC). Yet, the cognitive mechanisms underlying this relationship remain elusive. The capacity hypothesis states that this relationship is due to limitations in the amount of information that can be stored and held active in working memory. Previous research aimed...
Chapter
Working memory provides a medium for building and manipulating new representations that control our thoughts and actions. To fulfil this function, a working memory system needs to meet six requirements: (1) it must have a mechanism for rapidly forming temporary bindings to combine elements into new structures; (2) it needs a focus of attention for...
Article
Full-text available
Human attention is subject to fluctuations. Mind-wandering (MW) - attending to thoughts unrelated to the current task demands - is considered a ubiquitous experience. According to the Control Failure x Concerns view (McVay & Kane, 2010), MW is curbed by executive control, and task-irrelevant thoughts enter consciousness due to attentional control l...
Preprint
Full-text available
The strong relationship between fluid intelligence and working memory capacity (WMC) is commonly known. Yet, the cognitive mechanisms underlying this relationship remain elusive. The capacity hypothesis states that this relationship is due to limitations in the amount of information that can be stored and held active in working memory. Previous res...
Article
Full-text available
An amendment to this paper has been published and can be accessed via a link at the top of the paper.
Preprint
Attentional control as an ability to regulate information processing during goal-directed behavior is critical to many theories of human cognition and thought to predict a large range of everyday behaviors. However, in recent years, failures to reliably assess individual differences in attentional control have sparked a debate concerning whether at...
Article
The process of spontaneous refreshing plays a central role in current models of working memory but is yet to be observed directly. In a recent study, Rey and colleagues (Rey, Versace, & Plancher, 2018) introduced a novel approach to investigate the mechanisms underlying refreshing: They presented tones previously associated with a visual mask durin...
Preprint
Updating is the executive function (EF) previously found to most strongly relate to higher cognitive abilities such as reasoning. However, this relationship could be a methodological artifact: Measures of other EFs (i.e., inhibition and shifting) usually isolate the contribution of EF, whereas updating is measured by overall accuracy in working mem...
Article
Refreshing – briefly attending to an item in working memory – has been proposed as a domain-general maintenance process. According to the time-based resource-sharing (TBRS) theory, people refresh the contents of working memory sequentially at high speed. We measured the speed of refreshing by asking participants to sequentially refresh a small set...
Article
Full-text available
It is usually assumed that articulatory rehearsal improves verbal working memory. Complex span is the most used paradigm to assess working memory functioning; yet, we still lack knowledge about how participants rehearse in this task, and whether these rehearsals are beneficial. In Experiment 1, we investigated the patterns of naturally occurring ov...
Preprint
When encoding task-relevant information in working memory (WM), we can use prior knowledge to facilitate task performance. For instance, when memorizing a phone number, we can benefit from recognizing some parts as known chunks (e.g., 911) and focus on memorizing the novel parts. Prior knowledge from long-term memory (LTM), however, can also proact...
Article
Full-text available
Some issues that have been settled by the scientific community, such as evolution, the effectiveness of vaccinations, and the role of CO2 emissions in climate change, continue to be rejected by segments of the public. This rejection is typically driven by people's worldviews, and to date most research has found that conservatives are uniformly more...
Preprint
Some issues that have been settled by the scientific community, such as evolution, the effectiveness of vaccinations, and the role of CO2 emissions in climate change, continue to be rejected by segments of the public. This rejection is typically driven by people's worldviews, and to date most research has found that conservatives are uniformly more...
Preprint
The process of spontaneous refreshing plays a central role in current models of working memory but is yet to be observed directly. In a recent study, Rey and colleagues (Rey, Versace, & Plancher, 2018) introduced a novel approach to investigate the mechanisms underlying refreshing: They presented tones previously associated with a visual mask durin...
Article
Full-text available
There is a broad agreement that psychology is facing a replication crisis. Even some seemingly well-established findings have failed to replicate. Numerous causes of the crisis have been identified, such as underpowered studies, publication bias, imprecise theories, and inadequate statistical procedures. The replication crisis is real, but it is le...
Preprint
Free time to attend to and process information in working memory is key in promoting immediate and delayed retention. One candidate process to cause this benefit is elaboration. We conducted two experiments with young and older adults to investigate whether free time is used for elaboration. Participants remembered lists of nouns, interleaved with...
Article
The processing of ordinally organized information is a characteristic of both serial-order working memory and numerical cognition. Serial positions of items presented within a list follow an ordinal organization when stored in working memory, whereas numbers are based on an ordinal structure stored in long-term memory. We tested the hypothesis that...
Poster
Full-text available
Mind Wandering is engagement in cognitions unrelated to the current task at hand. In the literature, seniors report fewer mind wandering than younger adults. This challenges the Attention Failure x Concerns view (McVay and Kane, 2010) of mind wandering, as seniors are thought to have impaired executive control compared to younger adults, and hence...
Article
Full-text available
I propose that the capacity of working memory places a specific limit on the maintenance of temporary bindings. Two experiments support this binding hypothesis: Participants remembered word lists of varying length. When tested on a randomly selected word, their error rates increased with the length of the list, reflecting a limited capacity for sho...
Article
We introduce a framework for simple measurement models for working memory, and apply it to complex-span and memory-updating tasks. Memory Measurement Models (M3) use the frequency distribution across response categories to measure continuous memory strength along 2 dimensions: Memory for individual elements, potentially relying on persistent activa...
Article
A worrying number of psychological findings are not replicable. Diagnoses of the causes of this “replication crisis,” and recommendations to address it, have nearly exclusively focused on methods of data collection, analysis, and reporting. We argue that a further cause of poor replicability is the often weak logical link between theories and their...
Article
Full-text available
This is a brief reply to the commentaries by Adam and deBettencourt (2019); Allen (2019); Kiyonaga (2019); Schneider (2019); and Van der Stigchel and Olivers (2019), focusing on four topics: (1) I defend the idea that attention need not be characterized as a limited resource. (2) I explain how I conceptualize the role of WM in cognitive control, an...
Article
How does the content of visual working memory influence the way we process the visual environment? We addressed this question using the steady-state visual evoked potential (SSVEP), which provides a discernible measure of visuocortical activation to multiple stimuli simultaneously. Fifty-six adults were asked to remember a set of two oriented grati...
Article
A common assumption in theories of working memory is that a maintenance process – broadly referred to as rehearsal – is involved in keeping novel information available. This review evaluates the effectiveness of three forms of rehearsal: articulatory rehearsal, attention-based refreshing, and elaborative rehearsal. Evidence for the effectiveness of...
Article
Full-text available
It is a well-replicated finding that reaction time is correlated with performance in intelligence tests. According to the binding hypothesis of working memory capacity, the ability to establish bindings between elements and to integrate them into new structural representations is the source of the common variance between different cognitive tasks,...
Article
Full-text available
Maintenance of information in working memory (WM) is assumed to rely on refreshing and elaboration, but clear mechanistic descriptions of these cognitive processes are lacking, and it is unclear whether they are simply two labels for the same process. This fMRI study investigated the extent to which refreshing, elaboration, and repeating of items i...
Preprint
Full-text available
Older adults show a pronounced decline in long-term memory (LTM), but the source of this deficit is still debated. The present study investigated whether deficient engagement in refreshing and elaboration at the level of working memory (WM) causes this deficit. Our results show that the benefit of refreshing in WM was unaffected by age. Refreshing...
Article
Full-text available
There is broad agreement that working memory is closely related to attention. This article delineates several theoretical options for conceptualizing this link, and evaluates their viability in light of their theoretical implications and the empirical support they received. A first divide exists between the concept of attention as a limited resourc...
Article
There is a recent surge of interest in maintenance processes in working memory, such as articulatory rehearsal, elaboration, and attentional refreshing. Yet, we know little about the central attentional demand of these processes. It has been assumed that articulatory rehearsal does not require central attention at all (Vergauwe, Camos, & Barrouille...
Article
We constructed 4 working memory recognition models to predict behavior in the local recognition task (also called change detection), in which both content (e.g., color) and context (e.g., location) information are necessary to make correct recognition decisions. The theoretical assumptions incorporated in the models come from crossing 2 contrasts:...
Article
Full-text available
In the last two decades, individual-differences research has put forward 3 cognitive psychometric constructs: executive control (i.e., the ability to monitor and control ongoing thoughts and actions), working memory capacity (WMC, i.e., the ability to retain access to a limited amount of information in the service of complex tasks), and fluid intel...
Article
In working memory research, individual items are sometimes said to be in the "focus of attention". According to one view, this occurs for the last item in a sequentially presented list (last-item benefit). According to a second view, this occurs when items are externally cued during the retention interval (retro-cue benefit). We investigated both p...
Article
Full-text available
Past research has consistently shown that episodic memory (EM) declines with adult age and, according to the associative-deficit hypothesis, the locus of this decline is binding difficulties. We investigated the importance of establishing and maintaining bindings in working memory (WM) for age differences in associative EM. In Experiment 1 we adapt...
Preprint
Full-text available
Past research has consistently shown that episodic memory (EM) declines with adult age and, according to the associative-deficit hypothesis, the locus of this decline is binding difficulties. We investigated the importance of establishing and maintaining bindings in working memory (WM) for age differences in associative EM. In Experiment 1 we adapt...
Article
Articulatory rehearsal is assumed to benefit verbal working memory. Yet, there is no experimental evidence supporting a causal link between rehearsal and serial-order memory, which is one of the hallmarks of working memory functioning. Across four experiments, we tested the hypothesis that rehearsal improves working memory by asking participants to...
Preprint
Full-text available
In working memory research, individual items are sometimes said to be in the "focus of attention". According to one view, this occurs for the last item in a sequentially presented list (last-item benefit). According to a second view, this occurs when items are externally cued during the retention interval (retro-cue benefit). We investigated both p...
Preprint
Full-text available
Maintenance of information in working memory (WM) is assumed to rely on refreshing and elaboration , but clear mechanistic descriptions of these cognitive processes are lacking, and it is unclear whether they are simply two labels for the same process. This fMRI study investigated the extent to which refreshing, elaboration, and repeating of items...
Article
We respond to the comments of Logie and Vandierendonck to our article proposing benchmark findings for evaluating theories and models of short-term and working memory. The response focuses on the two main points of criticism: (a) Logie and Vandierendonck argue that the scope of the set of benchmarks is too narrow. We explain why findings on how wor...
Article
Any mature field of research in psychology-such as short-term/working memory-is characterized by a wealth of empirical findings. It is currently unrealistic to expect a theory to explain them all; theorists must satisfice with explaining a subset of findings. The aim of the present article is to make the choice of that subset less arbitrary and idi...
Preprint
Articulatory rehearsal is assumed to benefit verbal working memory. Yet, there is no experimental evidence supporting a causal link between rehearsal and serial-order memory, which is one of the hallmarks of working memory functioning. Across four experiments, we tested the hypothesis that rehearsal improves working memory by asking participants to...
Article
Full-text available
What happens to goal-relevant information in working memory after it is no longer needed? Here, we review evidence for a selective removal process that operates on outdated information to limit working memory load and hence facilitates the maintenance of goal-relevant information. Removal alters the representations of irrelevant content so as to re...
Article
Chunking is the recoding of smaller units of information into larger, familiar units. Chunking is often assumed to help bypassing the limited capacity of working memory (WM). We investigate how chunks are used in WM tasks, addressing three questions: (a) Does chunking reduce the load on WM? Across four experiments chunking benefits were found not o...
Article
Full-text available
Substantial behavioral evidence suggests that attention plays an important role in working memory. Frequently, attention is characterized as enhancing representations by increasing their strength or activation level. Despite the intuitive appeal of this idea, using attention to strengthen representations in computational models can lead to unexpect...
Article
Attention helps manage the information held in visual working memory (vWM). Perceptual attention selects the stimuli to be represented in vWM, whereas internal attention prioritizes information already in vWM. In the present study we assessed the spatial precision of perceptual and internal attention in vWM. Participants encoded eight colored dots...
Article
Full-text available
Dual-process models of recognition often assume that one retrieval process, generating a familiarity signal, is automatic, whereas the other, recollection, is controlled. Four experiments are presented to test for automaticity of familiarity in a short-term recognition task. The experiments use the Psychological Refractory Period (PRP) paradigm to...
Article
Refreshing and elaboration are cognitive processes assumed to underlie verbal working-memory maintenance and assumed to support long-term memory formation. Whereas refreshing refers to the attentional focussing on representations, elaboration refers to linking representations in working memory into existing semantic networks. We measured the impact...
Article
To function properly, working memory must be rapidly updated. Updating requires the removal of information no longer relevant. I present six experiments designed to explore the boundary conditions and the time course of removal. A condition in which three out of six memory items can be removed was compared to two baseline conditions in which either...
Chapter
We survey the utility and function of mathematical and computational models in cognitive science by emphasizing their role as a reasoning aid for researchers. Unlike purely verbal theorizing, the rigor of computational models forces researchers to understand the implications of theoretical constructs. We review four types of models: (1) Descriptive...
Article
The Iowa Gambling Task (IGT) is one of the most prominent paradigms employed for the assessment of risk taking in the laboratory, and it was shown to distinguish between various patient groups and controls. The present study was conducted to test the psychometric characteristics of the original IGT and of a new gambling task variant for assessing i...
Preprint
Using mixed-effects models and Bayesian statistics has been advocated by statisticians in recent years. Mixed-effects models allow researchers to adequately account for the structure in the data. Bayesian statistics – in contrast to frequentist statistics – can state the evidence in favor of or against an effect of interest. For frequentist statist...
Article
In simple-span tasks, participants encode items sequentially for immediate serial recall. Complex-span tasks are similar, except that items are interleaved with a distraction task. Whereas immediate memory is higher in simple than complex span, in tests of episodic long-term memory, better recall for words studied in complex than simple span has be...
Article
One of the functions that attention may serve in working memory (WM) is boosting information accessibility, a mechanism known as attentional refreshing. Refreshing is assumed to be a domain‐general process operating on visual, spatial, and verbal representations alike. So far, few studies have directly manipulated refreshing of individual WM repres...