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ERIC Number: EJ991428
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2012-May
Pages: 21
Abstractor: As Provided
Reference Count: 55
ISSN: ISSN-0278-7393
Interference between Maintenance and Processing in Working Memory: The Effect of Item-Distractor Similarity in Complex Span
Oberauer, Klaus; Farrell, Simon; Jarrold, Christopher; Pasiecznik, Kazimir; Greaves, Martin
Journal of Experimental Psychology: Learning, Memory, and Cognition, v38 n3 p665-685 May 2012
Four experiments examined the effect of phonological similarity between items and distractors on complex span performance. Item-distractor similarity benefited serial recall when distractors followed the items they were similar to, but not when distractors preceded the items they were similar to. These findings are predicted by C-SOB (contextual serial order in a box), a computational model of complex span. The model assumes that distractors are involuntarily encoded into memory, being associated to the preceding item's list position. Distractors interfere with items by superposition of distributed representations that are associated to the same position. Superposition distorts item memory; this distortion is less severe when the distractor is similar to the item. Further support for the assumption that distractors are encoded at the position of the preceding item comes from the finding that intrusions of distractors at recall tended to come from the position of the target item. In addition, intruding distractors tend to replace items to which they are similar, showing that lack of distinctiveness also contributes to interference. (Contains 8 figures, 12 tables, and 1 footnote.)
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
Identifiers - Location: United Kingdom (Bristol)