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Short- and long-term memory contributions to immediate serial recognition: evidence from serial position effects

Purser, Harry and Jarrold, C. (2010) Short- and long-term memory contributions to immediate serial recognition: evidence from serial position effects. The Quarterly Journal of Experimental Psychology 63 (4), pp. 679-693. ISSN 1747-0218.

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A long-standing body of research supports the existence of separable short- and long-term memory systems, relying on phonological and semantic codes, respectively. The aim of the current study was to measure the contribution of long-term knowledge to short-term memory performance by looking for evidence of phonologically and semantically coded storage within a short-term recognition task, among developmental samples. Each experimental trial presented 4-item lists. In Experiment 1 typically developing children aged 5 to 6 years old showed evidence of phonologically coded storage across all 4 serial positions, but evidence of semantically coded storage at Serial Positions 1 and 2. In a further experiment, a group of individuals with Down syndrome was investigated as a test case that might be expected to use semantic coding to support short-term storage, but these participants showed no evidence of semantically coded storage and evidenced phonologically coded storage only at Serial Position 4, suggesting that individuals with Down syndrome have a verbal short-term memory capacity of 1 item. Our results suggest that previous evidence of semantic effects on “short-term memory performance” does not reflect semantic coding in short-term memory itself, and provide an experimental method for researchers wishing to take a relatively pure measure of verbal short-term memory capacity, in cases where rehearsal is unlikely.

Item Type: Article
Keyword(s) / Subject(s): Semantic knowledge, phonological similarity, short-term memory, recognition
School or Research Centre: Birkbeck Schools and Research Centres > School of Science > Psychological Sciences
Depositing User: Administrator
Date Deposited: 05 Apr 2011 14:25
Last Modified: 17 Apr 2013 12:20

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