The Role of Rehearsal in Short-Term Memory

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  • Topic: Time, Term, List
  • Pages : 6 (2094 words )
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  • Published : March 22, 2011
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Abstract
Fergus I. M. Craik and Michael J. Watkins conducted two experiments which oppose many widely accepted models of memory, stating that an items length of stay in short term storage (STS) has an effect on the item being transferred into long term storage (LTS). Previous researchers postulate the more an item is rehearsed in STM there is a better chance of the item being transferred into LTM, for recall later, this can explain the negative recency effect in free recall; items presented at the end of a list are not rehearsed as often, being poorly retrieved later. Craik and Watkins experiments showed that neither the amount of time an item stayed in STM nor the number of overt rehearsals was related to subsequent recall (Craik and Watkins). They have concluded that the maintenance and elaborative aspects of the rehearsal can by separated. Maintenance does not lead to an improvement in memory performance (Craik and Watkins). Experiment # 1

Participants in this experiment were instructed to listen to a series of word lists, reporting only the last word beginning with a specific (critical) letter after each list was completed. The participants were given the critical letter prior to the presentation of the list, therefore able to ignore all other words not containing the critical letter. Once another word with the critical letter was presented the participant could drop the first word and rehearse the next. Continuing until the list ended. Once the list ended the participant wrote down the last critical word. Three rates of presentation were used; the time a critical word was held in STS varied both as a function of presentation rate, and the number of noncritical words monitored between presentation and replacement (Craik and Watkins). Following the presentation of all the lists, participants were unexpectedly asked to recall as many words as possible from all the lists presented previously. For each rate of presentation, the delayed recall of both the replaced and reported critical words was examined as a function of the number of noncritical presentations during which words were held (Craik and Watkins). If time in STS predicts LTS retrieval, then final recall performance should increase directly with the number of items monitored during the retention of the critical words, and inversely with presentation rate (Craik and Watkins). Method

Fifty four introductory psychology students from North East London Polytechnic participated in this experiment. The experiment was carried out in three sessions with eighteen participants in each group, randomly allocated into three groups of six, each group given a different set of critical words. Participants were informed at the beginning that they formed the control group of a perception-memory experiment; whereas other participants had a task with a substantial memory load. They were to monitor the lists and write down the last critical word. It was stressed that their performance should be virtually perfect. Prior to the presentation of the list each participant was given a card with the list number and critical letter for that list; once the list ended the participants wrote down on the card the last critical word, immediately placing the card into an envelope. In each session, nine lists were presented at each speed, randomized separately for each session. All participants were shown the same twenty seven lists (recorded on tape) of twenty one (one or two syllable concrete nouns) each list was preceded by the list number and the speed of presentation. Three rates of presentation were used; slow-one word every two seconds, medium-one word every second, and fast-one word every half second. Lists presented at one speed in the initial session were then the presented in the two remaining speeds. A tone was presented at the same rate as the list words signaling the end of the list. Two further within variables were involved; the first is i-values (nine were used) the...
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