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Rehearsal in serial recall: An unworkable solution to the nonexistent problem of decay


Lewandowsky, Stephan; Oberauer, Klaus (2015). Rehearsal in serial recall: An unworkable solution to the nonexistent problem of decay. Psychological Review, 122(4):674-699.

Abstract

We examine the explanatory roles that have been ascribed to various forms of rehearsal or refreshing in short-term memory (STM) and working memory paradigms, usually in conjunction with the assumption that memories decay over time if they are not rehearsed. Notwithstanding the popularity of the rehearsal notion, there have been few detailed examinations of its underlying mechanisms. We explicitly implemented rehearsal in a decay model and explored its role by simulation in several benchmark paradigms ranging from immediate serial recall to complex span and delayed recall. The results show that articulatory forms of rehearsal often fail to counteract temporal decay. Rapid attentional refreshing performs considerably better, but so far there is scant empirical evidence that people engage in refreshing during STM tasks. Combining articulatory rehearsal and refreshing as 2 independent maintenance processes running in parallel leads to worse performance than refreshing alone. We conclude that theoretical reliance on articulatory rehearsal as a causative agent in memory may be unwise and that explanatory appeals to rehearsal are insufficient unless buttressed by quantitative modeling. (PsycINFO Database Record

Abstract

We examine the explanatory roles that have been ascribed to various forms of rehearsal or refreshing in short-term memory (STM) and working memory paradigms, usually in conjunction with the assumption that memories decay over time if they are not rehearsed. Notwithstanding the popularity of the rehearsal notion, there have been few detailed examinations of its underlying mechanisms. We explicitly implemented rehearsal in a decay model and explored its role by simulation in several benchmark paradigms ranging from immediate serial recall to complex span and delayed recall. The results show that articulatory forms of rehearsal often fail to counteract temporal decay. Rapid attentional refreshing performs considerably better, but so far there is scant empirical evidence that people engage in refreshing during STM tasks. Combining articulatory rehearsal and refreshing as 2 independent maintenance processes running in parallel leads to worse performance than refreshing alone. We conclude that theoretical reliance on articulatory rehearsal as a causative agent in memory may be unwise and that explanatory appeals to rehearsal are insufficient unless buttressed by quantitative modeling. (PsycINFO Database Record

Citations

6 citations in Web of Science®
8 citations in Scopus®
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Additional indexing

Item Type:Journal Article, refereed, original work
Communities & Collections:06 Faculty of Arts > Institute of Psychology
Dewey Decimal Classification:150 Psychology
Date:October 2015
Deposited On:30 Nov 2015 11:32
Last Modified:05 Apr 2016 19:35
Publisher:American Psychological Association
ISSN:0033-295X
Publisher DOI:https://doi.org/10.1037/a0039684
PubMed ID:26437148

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