The interpretation of temporal isolation effects

Stephan Lewandowsky*, Tarryn Wright, Gordon D A Brown

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter in a book

1 Citation (Scopus)


Although the broader concept of working memory has replaced the more traditional focus on short-term verbal memory, there remain significant research questions about how humans achieve temporary retention of verbal material, and particularly serial order. This chapter focuses on the role of timing in the presentation of verbal material for immediate ordered serial recall. There is an established finding that items which are temporally isolated from other items in the list are rather better recalled. This finding is one source of support for models that view temporal markers as important for retaining and reproducing serial order. This chapter also argues that these results can be interpreted as reflecting alternative encoding strategies for items that stand out from the list because of the timing of presentation. Therefore, timing itself might not be crucial, and selective encoding strategies might be more important for recall success.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationThe Cognitive Neuroscience of Working Memory
PublisherOxford University Press
ISBN (Print)9780191693816, 9780198570394
Publication statusPublished - 22 Mar 2012

Structured keywords

  • Memory


  • Selective encoding
  • Serial order
  • Serial recall
  • Verbal memory


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