Temporal isolation does not facilitate forward serial recall - Or does it?

University of Western Australia, Crawley, Western Australia.
Memory & Cognition (Impact Factor: 1.92). 07/2008; 36(5):957-67. DOI: 10.3758/MC.36.5.957
Source: PubMed


In numerous recent studies in short-term memory, it has been established that forward serial recall is unaffected by the temporal isolation of to-be-remembered items. These findings contradict the temporal distinctiveness view of memory, which expects items that are temporally isolated from their neighbors to be more distinct and hence remembered better. To date, isolation effects have only been found with tests that do not constrain output order, such as free recall. This article reports two experiments that, for the first time, report a temporal isolation effect with forward serial recall, using a running memory task in which the end of the list is unpredictable. The results suggest that people are able to encode and use temporal information in situations in which positional information is of little value. We conclude that the overall pattern of findings concerning temporal isolation supports models of short-term memory that postulate multidimensional representations of items.

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Available from: Stephan Lewandowsky
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    • "However, according to the TD approach, the SPC performance does not depend on other executive processes, but only on characteristics of the stimuli. Geiger and Lewandowsky (2008) used a running memory task procedure, and provided support for the TD account. They showed that both temporal and nontemporal information were maintained in memory until the point of cueing. "
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    ABSTRACT: This study aimed to investigate updating in working memory (WM), analyzing the effects of task demand and memory resources on serial position curve (SPC), in a running memory task with slow pace presentation and a probed recognition procedure. These task conditions were supposed to produce an easier WM updating task, which may allow evidencing whether the task is performed through an active or a passive updating. Serial position curves were compared in conditions of high or low memory load, and with or without interference of a secondary (prospective memory, PM) task. With either a high WM load, or a high PM load, results showed a SPC with both primacy and recency effects, indicating the use of an active strategy. When resources were taken up by both PM task and high WM demand the usual pattern with only recency effect was obtained. Taken together, these findings support the ideas that 1 — people can effectively update WM, and 2 — the performance is dependent on both memory and executive resource availability.
    Full-text · Article · May 2014 · Acta psychologica
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    • "No significant TIE is observed for serial recall of visuospatial materials (Parmentier, King, & Dennis 2006), and surprisingly, a TIE fails to be observed when participants are explicitly required to attend to the timing of items by postcueing for recall or recognition of the order of items or their timing (Farrell, 2008; Farrell & McLaughlin, 2007). Nonetheless, a TIE is observed in running memory span (Geiger & Lewandowsky, 2008) and in free recall (Brown, Morin, & Lewandowsky, 2006), and when participants are allowed to reconstruct the order of items in an input sequence in any output order (Lewandowsky, Nimmo, & Brown, 2008). In the latter case, the TIE is modulated by the output task even in cases where the nature of the output task is postcued. "
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    ABSTRACT: This article is concerned with how information about time and position in a sequence is represented in short-term memory and expressed in the dynamics of serial recall. Temporal-distinctiveness theories of memory predict that isolating a list item in time will improve recall accuracy for that item. Although the majority of research in short-term memory has failed to demonstrate a temporal isolation effect (TIE), there are occasions on which a TIE is observed. The disparity in results has been explained by assuming that participants can adaptively weight temporal and nontemporal information at retrieval, with differences between experiments promoting or discouraging reliance on time as a source of episodic information. A particular focus of the present study is the finding that the TIE is substantially observed in standard serial recall only when participants are instructed to group the list into minisequences. The findings of two experiments using instructed grouping replicated this effect but showed that it is attributable to a longer gap at the group boundary enhancing the positive effect of grouping on recall accuracy. These results show that the hierarchical representations usually associated with temporal grouping are also elicited by instructed grouping but that an additional and nonspecific benefit to recall obtains from lengthening the pause between groups. An additional role for time is identified in the timing of responses: The dynamics of input sequences tend to be mirrored in output sequences for ungrouped lists, whereas the primacy pattern in grouped lists is for a longer duration to speed access to the following group when that duration occurs at an instructed group boundary.
    Full-text · Article · Dec 2010 · Memory & Cognition
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    • "Overall, there is now a fairly good consensus that temporal isolation plays at most a minor role in forward serial recall (for a summary of the evidence, see Geiger & Lewandowsky, 2008). There are important exceptions involving unconstrained report order (e.g., Brown, Morin, & Lewandowsky, 2006; Lewandowsky, Nimmo, & Brown, 2008; Lewandowsky, Brown, & Thomas, 2009) and unpredictable list lengths (Geiger & Lewandowsky, 2008), but because those studies do not involve standard serial recall they are not relevant here. "
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    ABSTRACT: We investigated the effects of the duration and type of to-be-articulated distractors during encoding of a verbal list into short-term memory (STM). Distractors and to-be-remembered items alternated during list presentation, as in the complex-span task that underlies much of working-memory research. According to an interference model of STM, known as serial order in a box (SOB; Farrell & Lewandowsky, 2002), additional repeated articulations of the same word between list items should cause minimal further disruption of encoding into STM even though the retention interval for early list items is increased. SOB also predicts that the articulation of several different distractor items should lead to much enhanced disruption if the distractor interval is increased. Those predictions were qualitatively confirmed in 4 experiments that found that it is the type of distractors, not their total duration, that determines the success of encoding a list into STM. The results pose a challenge to temporal models of complex-span performance, such as the time-based resource sharing model (Barrouillet, Bernardin, & Camos, 2004). The results add to a growing body of evidence that memory for the short term is not exclusively governed by purely temporal processes.
    Full-text · Article · Jul 2010 · Journal of Experimental Psychology Learning Memory and Cognition
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