Memory & Cognition

, Volume 42, Issue 4, pp 552–569 | Cite as

The specificity of learned parallelism in dual-memory retrieval

  • Tilo Strobach
  • Torsten Schubert
  • Harold Pashler
  • Timothy Rickard


Retrieval of two responses from one visually presented cue occurs sequentially at the outset of dual-retrieval practice. Exclusively for subjects who adopt a mode of grouping (i.e., synchronizing) their response execution, however, reaction times after dual-retrieval practice indicate a shift to learned retrieval parallelism (e.g., Nino & Rickard, in Journal of Experimental Psychology: Learning, Memory, and Cognition, 29, 373–388, 2003). In the present study, we investigated how this learned parallelism is achieved and why it appears to occur only for subjects who group their responses. Two main accounts were considered: a task-level versus a cue-level account. The task-level account assumes that learned retrieval parallelism occurs at the level of the task as a whole and is not limited to practiced cues. Grouping response execution may thus promote a general shift to parallel retrieval following practice. The cue-level account states that learned retrieval parallelism is specific to practiced cues. This type of parallelism may result from cue-specific response chunking that occurs uniquely as a consequence of grouped response execution. The results of two experiments favored the second account and were best interpreted in terms of a structural bottleneck model.


Cued retrieval Dual-retrieval practice Chunked retrieval Parallel retrieval 


Author note

This research was supported by a grant of the German Academic Exchange Service to the first author. The experiments were conducted during a research visit of the first author to the lab of T.R. at the University of California, San Diego. We thank Dorothy Nguyen and Grant Gibson for their assistance with data collection.


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Copyright information

© Psychonomic Society, Inc. 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  • Tilo Strobach
    • 1
    • 2
    • 4
  • Torsten Schubert
    • 1
  • Harold Pashler
    • 3
  • Timothy Rickard
    • 3
  1. 1.Humboldt UniversityBerlinGermany
  2. 2.Ludwig-Maximilians UniversityMunichGermany
  3. 3.University of California, San DiegoLa JollaUSA
  4. 4.Department of PsychologyHumboldt University BerlinBerlinGermany

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