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15-03-2019 | Original Article | Uitgave 6/2020

Psychological Research 6/2020

Dissociative associative-memory deficit as a function of primacy and recency effects

Psychological Research > Uitgave 6/2020
Jonathan Guez, Rotem Saar-Ashkenazy, Chen Tiferet-Dweck
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Studies designed to explore memory for single items versus paired items (i.e., associative memory) in young adults show inconsistent results. Some studies report a decrease in associative recognition and others report mild-to-moderate or even a null effect. The studies often do not take into account stimuli serial position (SSP) when analyzing the locus of associative accuracy. Studies testing SSP often target memory for items, while studies targeting associative memory decline as a function of SSP are lacking. The objective of the current study is to test the separate and joint effect of SSP (experiments 1 + 2) and presentation duration (experiment 2) on memory recognition for items versus associations. We hypothesized that greater associative decline (compared to the expected decline in memory for items with similar serial location) will be observed for the material located at the end of a learning list than the material located at the beginning of a learning list. The results of the two experiments converged and confirmed our hypotheses; the greatest associative deficit was observed for associative material located at the end of the learning list (experiments 1 + 2) and for material presented for short durations (experiment 2). The interaction between SSP and presentation duration did not reach significance; however, a direct estimation of the cumulative deficit of SSP and presentation duration confirmed our hypothesis regarding greater associative deficit for recently presented items for short durations. These results highlight the importance of the joint and separate, effect of SSP and presentation duration to the study of associative memory decline.

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