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No evidence for temporal decay in working memory


Lewandowsky, S; Oberauer, Klaus (2009). No evidence for temporal decay in working memory. Journal of Experimental Psychology: Learning, Memory, and Cognition, 35(6):1545-1551.

Abstract

What drives forgetting in working memory? Recent evidence suggests that in a complex-span task in which an irrelevant processing task alternates with presentation of the memoranda, recall declines when the time taken to complete the processing task is extended while holding the time for rehearsal in between processing steps constant (Portrat, Barrouillet, & Camos, 2008). This time-based forgetting was interpreted in support for the role of time-based decay in working memory. In this article, we argue the contrary position by (a) showing in an experiment that the processing task in Portrat et al.’s (2008) study gave rise to uncontrolled post-error processes that occupied the attentional bottleneck, thus preventing restorative rehearsal, and (b) showing that when those post-error processes are statistically controlled, there is no evidence for temporal decay in Portrat et al.’s study. We conclude that currently there exists no direct evidence for temporal decay in the complex-span paradigm.

Abstract

What drives forgetting in working memory? Recent evidence suggests that in a complex-span task in which an irrelevant processing task alternates with presentation of the memoranda, recall declines when the time taken to complete the processing task is extended while holding the time for rehearsal in between processing steps constant (Portrat, Barrouillet, & Camos, 2008). This time-based forgetting was interpreted in support for the role of time-based decay in working memory. In this article, we argue the contrary position by (a) showing in an experiment that the processing task in Portrat et al.’s (2008) study gave rise to uncontrolled post-error processes that occupied the attentional bottleneck, thus preventing restorative rehearsal, and (b) showing that when those post-error processes are statistically controlled, there is no evidence for temporal decay in Portrat et al.’s study. We conclude that currently there exists no direct evidence for temporal decay in the complex-span paradigm.

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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
Uncontrolled Keywords:working memory, short-term memory, forgetting
Date:2009
Deposited On:27 Jan 2010 07:01
Last Modified:05 Apr 2016 13:48
Publisher:American Psychological Association
ISSN:0278-7393
Free access at:Publisher DOI. An embargo period may apply.
Publisher DOI:https://doi.org/10.1037/a0017010

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