Header

UZH-Logo

Maintenance Infos

What Is Time Good for in Working Memory?


Mizrak, Eda; Oberauer, Klaus (2021). What Is Time Good for in Working Memory? Psychological Science, 32(8):1325-1337.

Abstract

Giving people more time to process information in working memory improves their performance on working memory tasks. It is often assumed that free time given after presentation of an item enables maintenance processes to counteract forgetting of this item, suggesting that time has a retroactive benefit. Two other hypotheses-short-term consolidation and temporal distinctiveness-entail a local effect of time on immediately preceding and following items. Here, we show instead a novel global and proactive benefit of time in working memory. In three serial-recall experiments (Ns = 21, 25, and 26 young adults, respectively), we varied the position and duration of the free time within a seven-item list of consonants. Experiment 1 showed that the effect is global and not local. Experiments 2a and 2b showed that increased interitem time benefited performance only for the subsequent items, implying a proactive benefit. This finding rules out maintenance processes, short-term consolidation, and temporal distinctiveness as explanations of the free-time benefit but is consistent with the proposal of a gradually recovering encoding resource.

Abstract

Giving people more time to process information in working memory improves their performance on working memory tasks. It is often assumed that free time given after presentation of an item enables maintenance processes to counteract forgetting of this item, suggesting that time has a retroactive benefit. Two other hypotheses-short-term consolidation and temporal distinctiveness-entail a local effect of time on immediately preceding and following items. Here, we show instead a novel global and proactive benefit of time in working memory. In three serial-recall experiments (Ns = 21, 25, and 26 young adults, respectively), we varied the position and duration of the free time within a seven-item list of consonants. Experiment 1 showed that the effect is global and not local. Experiments 2a and 2b showed that increased interitem time benefited performance only for the subsequent items, implying a proactive benefit. This finding rules out maintenance processes, short-term consolidation, and temporal distinctiveness as explanations of the free-time benefit but is consistent with the proposal of a gradually recovering encoding resource.

Statistics

Citations

Dimensions.ai Metrics
16 citations in Web of Science®
17 citations in Scopus®
Google Scholar™

Altmetrics

Downloads

173 downloads since deposited on 22 Sep 2021
56 downloads since 12 months
Detailed statistics

Additional indexing

Item Type:Journal Article, refereed, original work
Communities & Collections:06 Faculty of Arts > Institute of Psychology
Dewey Decimal Classification:150 Psychology
Scopus Subject Areas:Social Sciences & Humanities > General Psychology
Language:English
Date:August 2021
Deposited On:22 Sep 2021 12:58
Last Modified:26 Mar 2024 02:38
Publisher:Sage Publications
ISSN:0956-7976
OA Status:Hybrid
Publisher DOI:https://doi.org/10.1177/0956797621996659
PubMed ID:34309420
  • Content: Published Version
  • Language: English
  • Licence: Creative Commons: Attribution 4.0 International (CC BY 4.0)