Between-list lag effects in recall depend on retention interval
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Although the benefits of spaced retrieval for long-term retention are well established, the majority of this work has involved spacing over relatively short intervals (on the order of seconds or minutes). In the present experiments, we evaluated the effectiveness of spaced retrieval across relatively short intervals (within a single session), as compared to longer intervals (between sessions spaced a day apart), for long-term retention (i.e., one day or one week). Across a series of seven experiments, participants (N = 536) learned paired associates to a criterion of 70 % accuracy and then received one test–feedback trial for each item. The test–feedback trial occurred within 10 min of reaching criterion (short lag) or one day later (long lag). Then, a final test occurred one day (Exps. 1–3) or one week (Exps. 4 and 5) after the test–feedback trial. Across the different materials and methods in Experiments 1–3, we found little benefit for the long-lag relative to the short-lag schedule in final recall performance—that is, no lag effect—but large effects on the retention of information from the test–feedback to the final test phase. The results from the experiments with the one-week retention interval (Exps. 4 and 5) indicated a benefit of the long-lag schedule on final recall performance (a lag effect), as well as on retention. This research shows that even when the benefits of lag are eliminated at a (relatively long) one-day retention interval, the lag effect reemerges after a one-week retention interval. The results are interpreted within an extension of the bifurcation model to the spacing effect.
KeywordsMemory Recall Spacing effects Lag effects
Supported by a grant from Dart Neuroscience, LLC. We thank David Blinn, Nicole McKay, John Slochower, Alexandra Taylor, and Teresa Yao for assistance with data collection and scoring.
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