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Sequential dependencies in recall of sequences: Filling in the blanks

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)938-952
Number of pages15
JournalMemory and Cognition
Issue number6
DatePublished - 1 Aug 2013


Sequential dependencies can provide valuable information about the processes supporting memory, particularly memory for serial order. Earlier analyses have suggested that anticipation errors-reporting items ahead of their correct position in the sequence-tend to be followed by recall of the displaced item, consistent with primacy gradient models of serial recall. However, a more recent analysis instead suggests that anticipation errors are followed by further anticipation errors, consistent with chaining models. We report analyses of 21 conditions from published serial recall data sets, in which we observed a systematic pattern whereby anticipations tended to be followed by the "filling in" of displaced items. We note that cases where a different pattern held tended to apply to recall of longer lists under serial learning conditions or to conditions where participants were free to skip over items. Although the different patterns that can be observed might imply a dissociation (e.g., between short- and long-term memory), we show that these different patterns are naturally predicted by Farrell's (Psychological Review 119:223-271, 2012) model of short-term and episodic memory and relate to whether or not spontaneously formed groups of items can be skipped over during recall.

    Structured keywords

  • Memory

    Research areas

  • Free recall, Human memory, Sequential effects, Serial recall


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