Memory & Cognition

, Volume 46, Issue 2, pp 285–297 | Cite as

How sublexical association strength modulates updating: Cognitive and strategic effects

  • Caterina Artuso
  • Paola Palladino


In the current study, we investigated updating of long-term memory (LTM) associations. Specifically, we examined sublexical associations by manipulating preexisting LTM relations between consonant couplets (in encoding and updating phases), and explicitly instructed participants to engage with a specific strategy for approaching the task (item disjunction, grouping, or none). In two experiments, we used a multistep subject-based memory updating task in which we measured processing response times (RTs; Exp. 1, Exp. 2) and recognition RTs (Exp. 2). For the first time, in both experiments, we found costs in dismantling strong pre-existing associations from LTM and benefits in recreating strong preexisting associations. In addition, we found that control of irrelevant information was more difficult when this belonged to a strong association. Regarding task strategies, we showed that inducing a disjunction strategy enhanced updating, no matter the strength of the association. Results were discussed in the light of updating as a process of dismantling and recreating associations. The role of a specific strategic approach in enhancing the updating was also discussed.


Updating Long-term memory Working memory Sublexical representation Memory strategy 



We wish to thank Candice Morey, Santiago Pelegrina, and a third reviewer for their helpful comments and suggestions, and Sara Bottani for her help with data collection.


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Copyright information

© Psychonomic Society, Inc. 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.University of PaviaPaviaItaly

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