Memory & Cognition

, Volume 46, Issue 5, pp 796–808 | Cite as

The effects of refreshing and elaboration on working memory performance, and their contributions to long-term memory formation

  • Lea M. BartschEmail author
  • Henrik Singmann
  • Klaus Oberauer


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 of instructed refreshing and elaboration on working and long-term memory separately, and investigated to what extent both processes are distinct in their contributions to working as well as long-term memory. Compared with a no-processing baseline, immediate memory was improved by repeating the items, but not by refreshing them. There was no credible effect of elaboration on working memory, except when items were repeated at the same time. Long-term memory benefited from elaboration, but not from refreshing the words. The results replicate the long-term memory benefit for elaboration, but do not support its beneficial role for working memory. Further, refreshing preserves immediate memory, but does not improve it beyond the level achieved without any processing.


Working memory Long-term memory Refreshing Elaboration Bayesian generalized linear mixed models 


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Copyright information

© Psychonomic Society, Inc. 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Lea M. Bartsch
    • 1
    • 2
    Email author
  • Henrik Singmann
    • 1
  • Klaus Oberauer
    • 1
  1. 1.University of ZurichZurichSwitzerland
  2. 2.University Research Priority Program “Dynamics of Healthy Aging”ZurichSwitzerland

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