NotesFAQContact Us
Search Tips
Back to results
Peer reviewed Peer reviewed
Direct linkDirect link
ERIC Number: EJ1008125
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2013-May
Pages: 32
Abstractor: As Provided
ISSN: ISSN-0096-3445
Evidence against Decay in Verbal Working Memory
Oberauer, Klaus; Lewandowsky, Stephan
Journal of Experimental Psychology: General, v142 n2 p380-411 May 2013
The article tests the assumption that forgetting in working memory for verbal materials is caused by time-based decay, using the complex-span paradigm. Participants encoded 6 letters for serial recall; each letter was preceded and followed by a processing period comprising 4 trials of difficult visual search. Processing duration, during which memory could decay, was manipulated via search set size. This manipulation increased retention interval by up to 100% without having any effect on recall accuracy. This result held with and without articulatory suppression. Two experiments using a dual-task paradigm showed that the visual search process required central attention. Thus, even when memory maintenance by central attention and by articulatory rehearsal was prevented, a large delay had no effect on memory performance, contrary to the decay notion. Most previous experiments that manipulated the retention interval and the opportunity for maintenance processes in complex span have confounded these variables with time pressure during processing periods. Three further experiments identified time pressure as the variable that affected recall. We conclude that time-based decay does not contribute to the capacity limit of verbal working memory. (Contains 12 tables, 15 figures and 5 footnotes.)
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: Switzerland