Backward recall and foreknowledge of recall direction: a test of the Encoding–Retrieval Matching Hypothesis
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When participants must recall a sequence of items in reverse order just after their presentation, inconsistent findings have been observed relative to when participants must recall a sequence in their presentation order. Recently, the Encoding-Retrieval Matching Hypothesis (ERM) has been developed to account for these inconsistencies. Within the ERM hypothesis, foreknowledge of recall direction plays an important role. In two experiments, we tested a key prediction of the ERM hypothesis: In backward recall with foreknowledge of recall direction, the size of the effect will vary as a function of its reliance on visuospatial representations. Participants performed an immediate serial recall task with digits. As predicted, the detrimental effect of manual-spatial tapping was larger in backward recall relative to forward recall when recall direction was predictable (Experiment 1b), but not when it was unpredictable (Experiment 1a). In Experiment 2, the word length effect, not relying on visuospatial representations, was equally large in forward and backward recall, and it was unaffected by foreknowledge of recall direction. Overall, the results support the predictions derived from the ERM hypothesis and contribute to the delineation of when and how foreknowledge can influence backward recall performance relative to forward recall performance.