Order recall in verbal short-term memory: The role of semantic networks
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In their recent article, Acheson, MacDonald, and Postle (Journal of Experimental Psychology: Learning, Memory, and Cognition 37:44-59, 2011) made an important but controversial suggestion: They hypothesized that (a) semantic information has an effect on order information in short-term memory (STM) and (b) order recall in STM is based on the level of activation of items within the relevant lexico-semantic long-term memory (LTM) network. However, verbal STM research has typically led to the conclusion that factors such as semantic category have a large effect on the number of correctly recalled items, but little or no impact on order recall (Poirier & Saint-Aubin, Quarterly Journal of Experimental Psychology 48A:384-404, 1995; Saint-Aubin, Ouellette, & Poirier, Psychonomic Bulletin & Review 12:171-177, 2005; Tse, Memory 17:874-891, 2009). Moreover, most formal models of short-term order memory currently suggest a separate mechanism for order coding-that is, one that is separate from item representation and not associated with LTM lexico-semantic networks. Both of the experiments reported here tested the predictions that we derived from Acheson et al. The findings show that, as predicted, manipulations aiming to affect the activation of item representations significantly impacted order memory.
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