Modeling verbal short-term memory: A walk around the neighborhood. Journal Articles uri icon

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  • When remembering over the short-term, long-term knowledge has a large effect on the number of correctly recalled items and little impact on memory for order. This is true, for example, when the effects of semantic category are examined. Contrary to what these findings suggest, Poirier et al. in 2015 proposed that memory for order relies on the level of activation within long-term networks. Importantly, although their view has been criticized, they showed that manipulating semantic associations led to item migrations that were atypical. In this article, we show that similar migrations can be obtained with another knowledge-based factor: orthographic neighborhood. In three experiments, we manipulated the orthographic neighborhood of to-be-recalled items. The latter is a sublexical factor; as such, it is much less likely than semantic relatedness to involve demand characteristics or grouping strategies. The first experiment established that the neighborhood manipulation produced the pattern of item migrations previously observed with semantic relatedness, confirming that the migration effect can generalize to other variables. The last two experiments suggested that migrations were due to the features shared across list items rather than to item co-activation (as in Poirier et al.). The results were successfully modeled by calling upon the Revised Feature Model, where recall depends on selecting a retrieval candidate based on the features of the cueing information. Overall, our findings underline the usefulness of a model where retrieval is determined by relative distinctiveness and underline that multiple mechanisms can lead to order errors in recall. (PsycInfo Database Record (c) 2023 APA, all rights reserved).


  • Saint-Aubin, Jean
  • Poirier, Marie
  • Yearsley, James M
  • Robichaud, Jean-Michel
  • Guitard, Dominic

publication date

  • February 2023