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Two distinct origins of long-term learning effects in verbal short-term memory


Majerus, Steve; Martinez Perez, Trecy; Oberauer, Klaus (2012). Two distinct origins of long-term learning effects in verbal short-term memory. Journal of Memory and Language, 66(1):38-51.

Abstract

Verbal short-term memory (STM) is highly sensitive to learning effects: digit sequences or
nonword sequences which have been rendered more familiar via repeated exposure are
recalled more accurately. In this study we show that sublist-level, incidental learning of
item co-occurrence regularities affects immediate serial recall of words and nonwords,
but not digits. In contrast, list-level chunk learning affects serial recall of digits. In a first
series of experiments, participants heard a continuous sequence of digits in which the
co-occurrence of digits was governed by an artificial grammar. In a subsequent STM test
participants recalled lists that were legal or illegal according to the rules of the artificial
grammar. No advantage for legal lists over illegal lists was observed. A second series of
experiments used the same incidental learning procedure with nonwords or non-digit
words. An advantage for legal versus illegal list recall was observed. A final experiment
used an incidental learning task repeating whole lists of digits; this led to a substantial
recall advantage for legal versus illegal digit lists. These data show that serial recall of
non-digit words is supported by sublist-level probabilistic knowledge, whereas serial recall
of digits is only supported by incidental learning of whole lists.

Abstract

Verbal short-term memory (STM) is highly sensitive to learning effects: digit sequences or
nonword sequences which have been rendered more familiar via repeated exposure are
recalled more accurately. In this study we show that sublist-level, incidental learning of
item co-occurrence regularities affects immediate serial recall of words and nonwords,
but not digits. In contrast, list-level chunk learning affects serial recall of digits. In a first
series of experiments, participants heard a continuous sequence of digits in which the
co-occurrence of digits was governed by an artificial grammar. In a subsequent STM test
participants recalled lists that were legal or illegal according to the rules of the artificial
grammar. No advantage for legal lists over illegal lists was observed. A second series of
experiments used the same incidental learning procedure with nonwords or non-digit
words. An advantage for legal versus illegal list recall was observed. A final experiment
used an incidental learning task repeating whole lists of digits; this led to a substantial
recall advantage for legal versus illegal digit lists. These data show that serial recall of
non-digit words is supported by sublist-level probabilistic knowledge, whereas serial recall
of digits is only supported by incidental learning of whole lists.

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7 citations in Web of Science®
5 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
Language:English
Date:2012
Deposited On:04 Sep 2012 13:37
Last Modified:05 Apr 2016 15:57
Publisher:Elsevier
ISSN:0749-596X
Publisher DOI:https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jml.2011.07.006

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