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Evidence Against Novelty-Gated Encoding in Serial Recall


Oberauer, Klaus; Farrell, Simon; Jarrold, Christopher; Niklaus, Marcel (2022). Evidence Against Novelty-Gated Encoding in Serial Recall. Journal of Cognition, 5(1):17.

Abstract

Novelty-gated encoding is the assumption that events are encoded more strongly into memory when they are more novel in comparison to previously encoded events. It is a core assumption of the SOB model of serial recall (Farrell & Lewandowsky, 2002). We present three experiments testing some predictions from novelty-gated encoding. Experiment 1 shows that the probability of recalling the third item in a list correctly does not depend on whether it is preceded by phonologically similar or dissimilar items. Experiment 2 shows that in lists of items from three classes (nonwords, spatial locations, and abstract drawings) the probability of recalling an item does not depend on whether it is preceded by items from the same or another class. Experiment 3 used a complex-span paradigm varying the phonological similarity of words that are read aloud as distractors in between memory items. Contrary to a prediction from novelty-gated encoding, similar distractors did not impair memory more than dissimilar distractors. The results question the assumption of novelty-gated encoding in serial recall. We discuss alternative explanations for the phenomena that this assumption has previously helped to explain. The present evidence against novelty-gated encoding might point to boundary conditions for the role of prediction error in the acquisition of memories.

Abstract

Novelty-gated encoding is the assumption that events are encoded more strongly into memory when they are more novel in comparison to previously encoded events. It is a core assumption of the SOB model of serial recall (Farrell & Lewandowsky, 2002). We present three experiments testing some predictions from novelty-gated encoding. Experiment 1 shows that the probability of recalling the third item in a list correctly does not depend on whether it is preceded by phonologically similar or dissimilar items. Experiment 2 shows that in lists of items from three classes (nonwords, spatial locations, and abstract drawings) the probability of recalling an item does not depend on whether it is preceded by items from the same or another class. Experiment 3 used a complex-span paradigm varying the phonological similarity of words that are read aloud as distractors in between memory items. Contrary to a prediction from novelty-gated encoding, similar distractors did not impair memory more than dissimilar distractors. The results question the assumption of novelty-gated encoding in serial recall. We discuss alternative explanations for the phenomena that this assumption has previously helped to explain. The present evidence against novelty-gated encoding might point to boundary conditions for the role of prediction error in the acquisition of memories.

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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
Scopus Subject Areas:Social Sciences & Humanities > Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
Uncontrolled Keywords:Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
Language:English
Date:8 February 2022
Deposited On:02 Dec 2022 09:34
Last Modified:25 Mar 2024 04:41
Publisher:European Society for Cognitive Psychology
ISSN:2514-4820
OA Status:Gold
Free access at:PubMed ID. An embargo period may apply.
Publisher DOI:https://doi.org/10.5334/joc.207
PubMed ID:36072121
  • Content: Published Version
  • Language: English
  • Licence: Creative Commons: Attribution 4.0 International (CC BY 4.0)