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12-11-2020 | Original Article

The impact of encoding scenarios on different forms of temporal order memory

Tijdschrift:
Psychological Research
Auteur:
Signy Sheldon
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Abstract

This study investigated the impact of encoding scenarios on sequential memory, specifcally testing the benefit of imagining a spatial context when learning a list of items. In Experiment 1, participants studied sequences of visually presented items after imagining a spatial context or a preparatory cue. At test, participants made recency judgments (Which came first?) on pairs of items from the studied sequences. These test pairs varied in the studied temporal distance (studied with 0, 1 or 2 intervening items between the pair) and whether presented in a manner that was ‘spatially congruent’ with their studied order. A congruent test pair was one in which the first item from the sequence was presented on the left and the second item presented on the right. The results were that imagining a spatial context at encoding led to more accurate recency judgments than when no encoding context was provided. In addition, test pairs that included items studied farther apart (2 intervening items) were more accurately judged than test pairs with items studied closer together (0 or 1 intervening items). Experiment 2 utilized the same design to compare the effect of imagining a spatial context versus elaborating on a concept when encoding item sequences. Interestingly, the effect of these encoding contexts on recency judgments depended on both the temporal distance and congruency of the test pairs. Imagining a spatial context at encoding led to more accurate recency judgments than when thinking about a concept at encoding for incongruent test pairs and congruent test pairs studied without intervening items. These findings provide new insight into how encoding strategies, specifically those that recruit imagining spatial contexts, alter the way temporal associations are retrieved from memory.

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