No Evidence for Temporal Decay in Working Memory

Stephan Lewandowsky*, Klaus Oberauer

*Corresponding author for this work

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

52 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

What drives forgetting in working memory? Recent evidence suggests that in a complex-span task in which an irrelevant processing task alternates with presentation of the memoranda, recall declines when the time taken to complete the processing task is extended while holding the time for rehearsal in between processing steps constant (Portrat, Barrouillet, & Camos. 2008). This time-based forgetting was interpreted in support for the role of time-based decay in working memory. In this article, we argue the contrary position by (a) showing in an experiment that the processing task in Portrat et al.'s (2008) study gave rise to uncontrolled post-error processes that occupied the attentional bottleneck, thus preventing restorative rehearsal, and (b) showing that when those post-error processes are statistically controlled, there is no evidence for temporal decay in Portrat et al.'s study. We conclude that currently there exists no direct evidence for temporal decay in the complex-span paradigm.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1545-1551
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Experimental Psychology: Learning, Memory, and Cognition
Volume35
Issue number6
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2009

Structured keywords

  • Cognitive Science

Keywords

  • working memory
  • short-term memory
  • forgetting
  • SHORT-TERM-MEMORY
  • IMMEDIATE SERIAL-RECALL
  • MODEL
  • TIME
  • ORDER
  • DISTINCTIVENESS
  • INTERFERENCE
  • PERFORMANCE
  • ADULTS
  • ERROR

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