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Temporal associations and prior-list intrusions in free recall

, : Temporal associations and prior-list intrusions in free recall. Journal of Experimental Psychology. Learning, Memory, and Cognition 32(4): 792-804

When asked to recall the words from a just-presented target list, subjects occasionally recall words that were not on the list. These intrusions either appeared on earlier lists (prior-list intrusions, or PLIs) or had not appeared over the course of the experiment (extra-list intrusions). The authors examined the factors that elicit PLIs in free recall. A reanalysis of earlier studies revealed that PLIs tend to come from semantic associates as well as from recently studied lists, with the rate of PLIs decreasing sharply with list recency. The authors report 3 new experiments in which some items in a given list also appeared on earlier lists. Although repetition enhanced recall of list items, subjects were significantly more likely to make PLIs following the recall of repeated items, suggesting that temporal associations formed in earlier lists can induce recall errors. The authors interpret this finding as evidence for the interacting roles of associative and contextual retrieval processes in recall. Although contextual information helps to focus recall on words in the target list, it does not form an impermeable boundary between current- and prior-list experiences.


PMID: 16822147

DOI: 10.1037/0278-7393.32.4.792

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