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ERIC Number: EJ1049584
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2014-Nov
Pages: 14
Abstractor: As Provided
ISSN: ISSN-0278-7393
Time-Based Loss in Visual Short-Term Memory Is from Trace Decay, Not Temporal Distinctiveness
Ricker, Timothy J.; Spiegel, Lauren R.; Cowan, Nelson
Journal of Experimental Psychology: Learning, Memory, and Cognition, v40 n6 p1510-1523 Nov 2014
There is no consensus as to why forgetting occurs in short-term memory tasks. In past work, we have shown that forgetting occurs with the passage of time, but there are 2 classes of theories that can explain this effect. In the present work, we investigate the reason for time-based forgetting by contrasting the predictions of temporal distinctiveness and trace decay in the procedure in which we have observed such loss, involving memory for arrays of characters or letters across several seconds. The 1st theory, temporal distinctiveness, predicts that increasing the amount of time between trials will lead to less proactive interference, resulting in less forgetting across a retention interval. In the 2nd theory, trace decay, temporal distinctiveness between trials is irrelevant to the loss over a retention interval. Using visual array change detection tasks in 4 experiments, we find small proactive interference effects on performance under some specific conditions, but no concomitant change in the effect of a retention interval. We conclude that trace decay is the more suitable class of explanations of the time-based forgetting in short-term memory that we have observed, and we suggest the need for further clarity in what the exact basis of that decay may be.
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Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Research
Education Level: Higher Education; Postsecondary Education
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Identifiers - Location: Missouri
Grant or Contract Numbers: N/A