Semantic cuing and the scale insensitivity of recency and contiguity.

Polyn SM, Erlikhman G, Kahana MJ
J Exp Psychol Learn Mem Cogn. 2011 37 (3): 766-75

PMID: 21299330 · PMCID: PMC3277445 · DOI:10.1037/a0022475

In recalling a set of previously experienced events, people exhibit striking effects of recency, contiguity, and similarity: Recent items tend to be recalled best and first, and items that were studied in neighboring positions or that are similar to one another in some other way tend to evoke one another during recall. Effects of recency and contiguity have most often been investigated in tasks that require people to recall random word lists. Similarity effects have most often been studied in tasks that require people to recall categorized word lists. Here we examine recency and contiguity effects in lists composed of items drawn from 3 distinct taxonomic categories and in which items from a given category are temporally separated from one another by items from other categories, all of which are tested for recall. We find evidence for long-term recency and for long-range contiguity, bolstering support for temporally sensitive models of memory and highlighting the importance of understanding the interaction between temporal and semantic information during memory search.

MeSH Terms (12)

Adolescent Adult Cues Humans Mental Recall Paired-Associate Learning Probability Retention, Psychology Semantics Verbal Learning Vocabulary Young Adult

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