Interference-based forgetting in verbal short-term memory

Stephan Lewandowsky, S. Geiger, K. Oberauer

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

57 Citations (Scopus)
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This article presents four experiments that tested predictions of SOB (Serial Order in a Box), an interference-based theory of short-term memory. Central to SOB is the concept of novelty-sensitive encoding, which holds that items are encoded to the extent that they differ from already-encoded information. On the additional assumption that distractors are encoded into memory in the same manner as list items, the theory predicts differential effects of interfering activity based on the similarity structure of distractors. Consistent with predictions, three experiments showed that overt articulation of distractors in between recalls of list items did not affect forgetting when the same distractor was repeated multiple times, whereas forgetting was observed if several different distractors were articulated within the same time span. A fourth experiment showed that the absence of forgetting with repeated articulations of the same item was not due to compensatory attentional refreshing of memory traces. The data support the notion that forgetting from short-term memory arises from interference and are difficult to reconcile with temporal decay.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)200-222
JournalJournal of Memory and Language
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2008

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