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Working Memory • Turning Simple Span into Complex Span: Time for Decay or Interference from Distractors?
Page 1 of 1

Turning Simple Span into Complex Span: Time for Decay or Interference from Distractors?

Posted: Thu Mar 11, 2010 12:14 am
by lewan
Title: Turning Simple Span into Complex Span: Time for Decay or Interference from Distractors?
Journal: Journal of Experimental Psychology: Learning, Memory, and Cognition
Authors: Stephan Lewandowsky, Sonja M. Geiger, Daniel B. Morrell, and Klaus Oberauer
Author contact: lewan@psy.uwa.edu.au
Abstract: We investigated the e ffects of the duration and type of to-be-articulated distractors during
encoding of a verbal list into short-term memory (STM). Distractors and to-be-remembered items alternated during list presentation, similar to the complex-span task that underlies much of working-memory research. According to an interference model of STM, known as SOB (Serial Order in a Box; Farrell & Lewandowsky, 2002), additional repeated articulations of the same word in between list items should cause minimal further disruption of encoding into STM even though the retention interval for early list
items is increased. SOB also predicts that the articulation of several di fferent distractor items should lead to much enhanced disruption if the distractor interval is increased. Those predictions were qualitatively confirmed in four experiments which found that it is the type of distractors, not their total duration, that determines the success of encoding a list into STM. The results pose a challenge to temporal models of complex-span performance, such as the Time-Based Resource Sharing model (TBRS; Barrouillet,
Bernardin, & Camos, 2004). The results add to a growing body of evidence that memory for the short term is not exclusively governed by purely temporal processes.

Memory for the short term is not exclusively governed by purely temporal processes.

Posted: Tue Apr 06, 2010 6:02 pm
by etarnow@avabiz.com
I keep getting referee reports that state that short term memory does not decay with time and the interference model is the standard against which papers have to be written. Rather than continue to wine about the referees (who should all read the expert statement above that states a much weaker position than they do - from the abstract of the parent document to this posting), I would like to see if there is any mood out there for a discussion of this topic - interference versus time decay.

Here is my initial shot: any theory has to have a biological basis. My tagging/retagging theory of short term memory suggests that short term memory decays with time in part because of the exocytosis/endocytosis time dependence. What would the biological basis be for the interference theories? I think it highly unlikely that short term memory involves protein synthesis, which is the only permanent change of the brain, because protein synthesis typically takes longer than a few seconds (20 minutes to an hour as far as I understand). There was a recent experimental paper suggesting that short term memory are oscillations that are set up - does anybody buy that? Is there another alternative that I am not thinking of?