Memory & Cognition

, Volume 17, Issue 6, pp 693–700 | Cite as

Secondary memory and very rapid forgetting

  • Marc M. Sebrechts
  • Richard L. Marsh
  • John G. Seamon


Studies of recall in the absence of expectancy (e. g., Muter, 1980) have suggested that forgetting from primary memory is much more rapid than previously assumed. Two experiments examined the role of secondary memory, as reflected by encoding strategies, in determining this rate of forgetting. Experiment 1 demonstrated that the type of encoding specified by orienting tasks can influence recall in a traditional Brown-Peterson task. Experiment 2 demonstrated a similar pattern of effects of orienting task in the Muter task when recall was not expected, despite much more rapid forgetting. The type of encoding engaged by the orienting tasks did not account for Muter-s results. Expectancy and orienting task appear to have separable influences on resource allocation during encoding. The presence of secondary memory influences at even the shortest retention interval indicates that forgetting from primary memory may be even more rapid than has been proposed.


Retention Interval Critical Trial Semantic Group Primary Memory Secondary Memory 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


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Copyright information

© Psychonomic Society, Inc. 1989

Authors and Affiliations

  • Marc M. Sebrechts
    • 1
    • 2
  • Richard L. Marsh
    • 1
  • John G. Seamon
    • 1
  1. 1.Wesleyan UniversityMiddletown
  2. 2.Department of PsychologyThe Catholic University of AmericaWashington, DC

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