Exploring the forgetting mechanism in working memory: Evidence from a reasoning span task

S Saito, C Jarrold, DM Riby

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (Academic Journal)peer-review

5 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

In working memory (WM) span tests participants have to maintain to-be-remembered information while processing other, potentially distracting, information. Previous studies have shown that WM span scores are greater when span lists start with a long processing task and end with a short processing task than when these processing tasks are presented in the reverse order (e.g., Towse, Hitch, & Hutton, 2000). In Experiment 1, we obtained a similar stimulus order effect in a reasoning span test, using reasoning sentences that were equated for length in terms of the number of constituent words, but which differed in processing complexity; span scores were greater when lists began with a complex sentence and ended with a simple sentence than when this stimulus order was reversed. In Experiment 2, the stimulus order effect was not found when processing duration was held constant while sentence complexity was varied using a computer-paced moving window presentation paradigm. These results suggest that duration-based constraints can affect degree of forgetting independently of the load generated during processing phases in WM span performance and therefore imply that time-related forgetting can occur in WM span tests, particularly when the difficulty of the processing component blocks active maintenance of to-be-remembered material.
Translated title of the contributionExploring the forgetting mechanism in working memory: Evidence from a reasoning span task
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1401 - 1419
Number of pages19
JournalQuarterly Journal of Experimental Psychology
Volume62
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2009

Structured keywords

  • Developmental

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