NotesFAQContact Us
Search Tips
Peer reviewed Peer reviewed
Direct linkDirect link
ERIC Number: EJ931854
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2010-Nov
Pages: 14
Abstractor: As Provided
Reference Count: 60
ISSN: ISSN-0278-7393
Loss of Visual Working Memory within Seconds: The Combined Use of Refreshable and Non-Refreshable Features
Ricker, Timothy J.; Cowan, Nelson
Journal of Experimental Psychology: Learning, Memory, and Cognition, v36 n6 p1355-1368 Nov 2010
We reexamine the role of time in the loss of information from working memory, the limited information accessible for cognitive tasks. The controversial issue of whether working memory deteriorates over time was investigated using arrays of unconventional visual characters. Each array was followed by a postperceptual mask, a variable retention interval (RI), and a recognition probe character. Dramatic forgetting across an unfilled RI of up to 6 s was observed. Adding a distracting task during the RI (repetition, subtraction, or parity judgment using spoken digits) lowered the level of recall but not increasingly so across RIs. Also, arrays of English letters were not forgotten during the RI unless distracting stimuli were included, in contrast to the finding for unconventional characters. The results suggest that unconventional visual items include some features inevitably lost over time. Attention-related processing, however, assists in the retention of other features and of English letters. We identify important constraints for working memory theories and propose that an equilibrium between forgetting and reactivation holds but only for elements that are not inevitably lost over time. (Contains 2 tables, 4 figures and 1 footnote.)
Descriptors: Short Term Memory
American Psychological Association. Journals Department, 750 First Street NE, Washington, DC 20002-4242. Tel: 800-374-2721; Tel: 202-336-5510; Fax: 202-336-5502; e-mail:; Web site:
Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Research
Education Level: N/A
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A