Do Familiar Memory Items Decay?

Timothy J. Ricker, Joshua Sandry, Evie Vergauwe, Nelson Cowan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Abstract

There is a long-standing debate over whether the passage of time causes forgetting from working memory, a process called trace decay. Researchers providing evidence against the existence of trace decay generally study memory by presenting familiar verbal memory items for 1 s or more per memory item, during the study period. In contrast, researchers providing evidence for trace decay tend to use unfamiliar nonverbal memory items presented for 1 s or less per memory item, during the study period. Taken together, these investigations suggest that familiar items may not decay while unfamiliar items do decay. The availability of verbal rehearsal and the time to consolidate a memory item into working memory during presentation may also play a role in whether or not trace decay will occur. Here we explore these alternatives in a series of experiments closely modeled after studies demonstrating time-based forgetting from working memory, but using familiar verbal memory items in place of the unfamiliar memory items used to observe decay in the past. Our findings suggest that time-based forgetting is persistent across all of these factors while simultaneously challenging prominent views of trace decay.

Fingerprint

Short-Term Memory
Research Personnel
Decay
evidence
Forgetting
Working Memory
cause
time
experiment
Verbal Memory

Keywords

  • Forgetting
  • Recognition
  • Short-term memory
  • Trace decay
  • Working memory

Cite this

@article{2b2aae3651aa41b2846dcb95e6cac767,
title = "Do Familiar Memory Items Decay?",
abstract = "There is a long-standing debate over whether the passage of time causes forgetting from working memory, a process called trace decay. Researchers providing evidence against the existence of trace decay generally study memory by presenting familiar verbal memory items for 1 s or more per memory item, during the study period. In contrast, researchers providing evidence for trace decay tend to use unfamiliar nonverbal memory items presented for 1 s or less per memory item, during the study period. Taken together, these investigations suggest that familiar items may not decay while unfamiliar items do decay. The availability of verbal rehearsal and the time to consolidate a memory item into working memory during presentation may also play a role in whether or not trace decay will occur. Here we explore these alternatives in a series of experiments closely modeled after studies demonstrating time-based forgetting from working memory, but using familiar verbal memory items in place of the unfamiliar memory items used to observe decay in the past. Our findings suggest that time-based forgetting is persistent across all of these factors while simultaneously challenging prominent views of trace decay.",
keywords = "Forgetting, Recognition, Short-term memory, Trace decay, Working memory",
author = "Ricker, {Timothy J.} and Joshua Sandry and Evie Vergauwe and Nelson Cowan",
year = "2019",
month = "1",
day = "1",
doi = "10.1037/xlm0000719",
language = "English",
journal = "Journal of Experimental Psychology: Learning Memory and Cognition",
issn = "0278-7393",
publisher = "American Psychological Association Inc.",

}

Do Familiar Memory Items Decay? / Ricker, Timothy J.; Sandry, Joshua; Vergauwe, Evie; Cowan, Nelson.

In: Journal of Experimental Psychology: Learning Memory and Cognition, 01.01.2019.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

TY - JOUR

T1 - Do Familiar Memory Items Decay?

AU - Ricker, Timothy J.

AU - Sandry, Joshua

AU - Vergauwe, Evie

AU - Cowan, Nelson

PY - 2019/1/1

Y1 - 2019/1/1

N2 - There is a long-standing debate over whether the passage of time causes forgetting from working memory, a process called trace decay. Researchers providing evidence against the existence of trace decay generally study memory by presenting familiar verbal memory items for 1 s or more per memory item, during the study period. In contrast, researchers providing evidence for trace decay tend to use unfamiliar nonverbal memory items presented for 1 s or less per memory item, during the study period. Taken together, these investigations suggest that familiar items may not decay while unfamiliar items do decay. The availability of verbal rehearsal and the time to consolidate a memory item into working memory during presentation may also play a role in whether or not trace decay will occur. Here we explore these alternatives in a series of experiments closely modeled after studies demonstrating time-based forgetting from working memory, but using familiar verbal memory items in place of the unfamiliar memory items used to observe decay in the past. Our findings suggest that time-based forgetting is persistent across all of these factors while simultaneously challenging prominent views of trace decay.

AB - There is a long-standing debate over whether the passage of time causes forgetting from working memory, a process called trace decay. Researchers providing evidence against the existence of trace decay generally study memory by presenting familiar verbal memory items for 1 s or more per memory item, during the study period. In contrast, researchers providing evidence for trace decay tend to use unfamiliar nonverbal memory items presented for 1 s or less per memory item, during the study period. Taken together, these investigations suggest that familiar items may not decay while unfamiliar items do decay. The availability of verbal rehearsal and the time to consolidate a memory item into working memory during presentation may also play a role in whether or not trace decay will occur. Here we explore these alternatives in a series of experiments closely modeled after studies demonstrating time-based forgetting from working memory, but using familiar verbal memory items in place of the unfamiliar memory items used to observe decay in the past. Our findings suggest that time-based forgetting is persistent across all of these factors while simultaneously challenging prominent views of trace decay.

KW - Forgetting

KW - Recognition

KW - Short-term memory

KW - Trace decay

KW - Working memory

UR - http://www.scopus.com/inward/record.url?scp=85065771268&partnerID=8YFLogxK

U2 - 10.1037/xlm0000719

DO - 10.1037/xlm0000719

M3 - Article

AN - SCOPUS:85065771268

JO - Journal of Experimental Psychology: Learning Memory and Cognition

JF - Journal of Experimental Psychology: Learning Memory and Cognition

SN - 0278-7393

ER -