Memory & Cognition

, Volume 36, Issue 5, pp 957–967 | Cite as

Temporal isolation does not facilitate forward serial recall—or does it?

  • Sonja M. Geiger
  • Stephan LewandowskyEmail author


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.


Serial Position Span Task List Length Isolation Effect Temporal Isolation 
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. 2008

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.School of PsychologyUniversity of Western AustraliaCrawleyAustralia

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