Forward and Backward Recall: Different Retrieval Processes

Shu Chen Li, Stephan Lewandowsky*

*Corresponding author for this work

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

105 Citations (Scopus)


Recall direction is known to be an important determinant of serial recall performance: For example, accuracy is often greater for forward recall than backward recall, and forward recall typically exhibits extensive primacy but little recency, with the reverse arrangement for backward recall. Although some of the differences between recall directions can be accommodated by models that postulate a single retrieval process, recent evidence appears to favor the existence of 2 distinct retrieval processes, 1 for forward and 1 for backward recall. Five experiments reported in this article were aimed at illuminating these 2 putative processes. Tasks that interfered with the formation of interitem associations at study were found to disrupt forward but not backward recall, whereas tasks that altered the visual-spatial characteristics of the study material affected backward but not forward recall. It was proposed that forward recall is largely based on interitem associa tions, whereas backward recall relies on a visual-spatial representation of the study material.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)837-847
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of Experimental Psychology: Learning, Memory, and Cognition
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - Jul 1995

Structured keywords

  • Memory

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