Semantic similarity and immediate serial recall: Is there an effect on all trials
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In immediate serial recall, items are better recalled when they are all drawn from the same semantic category. This is usually accounted for by a two-stage retrieval-based framework, in which, at recall, long-term knowledge is used to reconstruct degraded phonological traces. The category shared by list items would serve as an additional retrieval cue restricting the number of recall candidates. Usually, the long-term search set is not defined, but some authors have suggested an extended search set and others a restricted set that is composed of the most recently presented items. This was tested in an experiment in which participants undertook an immediate serial recall task either alone or under articulatory suppression with either semantically similar or dissimilar lists. A trial-by-trial analysis revealed that, in both quiet and suppression conditions, items from similar lists were better recalled on all the trials, including the first one. In addition, there was no interaction between semantic similarity and trial, indicating that the effect of similarity was of similar size on all the trials. The results are best interpreted within a proposal suggesting an extended long-term search set.
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