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

Abstract

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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Correspondence to Stephan Lewandowsky.

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Preparation of this article was facilitated by a Large Grant and by a Discovery Grant from the Australian Research Council to S.L. S.L. was also supported by an Australian Professorial Fellowship from the Australian Research Council.

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Geiger, S.M., Lewandowsky, S. Temporal isolation does not facilitate forward serial recall—or does it?. Memory & Cognition 36, 957–967 (2008). https://doi.org/10.3758/MC.36.5.957

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Keywords

  • Serial Position
  • Span Task
  • List Length
  • Isolation Effect
  • Temporal Isolation