Tag: Working Memory

Does syntax bias serial order reconstruction of verbal short-term memory?

Does syntax bias serial order reconstruction of verbal short-term memory?

Published in: Journal of Memory and Language, Volume 100, June 2018, 98-122

Abstract
“Existing models of short-term sequence memory can account for effects of long-term knowledge on the recall of individual items, but have rarely addressed the effects of long-term sequential constraints on recall. We examine syntactic constraints on the ordering of words in verbal short-term memory in four experiments. People were found to have better memory for sequences that more strongly conform to English syntax, and that errors in recall tended to make output sequences more syntactic (i.e., a syntactic bias). Model simulations suggest that the syntactic biasing in verbal short-term recall was more likely to be accounted for by a redintegration mechanism acting over multiple items in the sequence. The data were less well predicted by a model in which syntactic constraints operate via the chunking of sequences at encoding. The results highlight that models of short-term memory should be extended to include syntactic constraints from long-term representations—most likely via redintegration mechanisms acting over multiple items—but we also note the challenge of incorporating such constraints into most existing models.”

Written by: Timothy Jones, Simon Farrell
For full text: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jml.2018.02.001

Sympathetic arousal, but not disturbed executive functioning, mediates the impairment of cognitive flexibility under stress

Sympathetic arousal, but not disturbed executive functioning, mediates the impairment of cognitive flexibility under stress

Published in: Cognition, Volume 174, May 2018, 94-102

Abstract
“Cognitive flexibility emerges from an interplay of multiple cognitive systems, of which lexical-semantic and executive are thought to be the most important. Yet this has not been addressed by previous studies demonstrating that such forms of flexible thought deteriorate under stress. Motivated by these shortcomings, the present study evaluated several candidate mechanisms implied to mediate the impairing effects of stress on flexible thinking. Fifty-seven healthy adults were randomly assigned to psychosocial stress or control condition while assessed for performance on cognitive flexibility, working memory capacity, semantic fluency, and self-reported cognitive interference. Stress response was indicated by changes in skin conductance, hearth rate, and state anxiety. Our analyses showed that acute stress impaired cognitive flexibility via a concomitant increase in sympathetic arousal, while this mediator was positively associated with semantic fluency. Stress also decreased working memory capacity, which was partially mediated by elevated cognitive interference, but neither of these two measures were associated with cognitive flexibility or sympathetic arousal. Following these findings, we conclude that acute stress impairs cognitive flexibility via sympathetic arousal that modulates lexical-semantic and associative processes. In particular, the results indicate that stress-level of sympathetic activation may restrict the accessibility and integration of remote associates and bias the response competition towards prepotent and dominant ideas. Importantly, our results indicate that stress-induced impairments of cognitive flexibility and executive functions are mediated by distinct neurocognitive mechanisms.”

Written by: Martin Marko, Igor Riečansky
For full text: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.cognition.2018.02.004

How sublexical association strength modulates updating: Cognitive and strategic effects

How sublexical association strength modulates updating: Cognitive and strategic effects

Published in: Memory & Cognition, Volume 46, Issue 2, 285-297

Abstract
“In the current study, we investigated updating of long-term memory (LTM) associations. Specifically, we examined sublexical associations by manipulating preexisting LTM relations between consonant couplets (in encoding and updating phases), and explicitly instructed participants to engage with a specific strategy for approaching the task (item disjunction, grouping, or none). In two experiments, we used a multistep subject-based memory updating task in which we measured processing response times (RTs; Exp. 1, Exp. 2) and recognition RTs (Exp. 2). For the first time, in both experiments, we found costs in dismantling strong pre-existing associations from LTM and benefits in recreating strong preexisting associations. In addition, we found that control of irrelevant information was more difficult when this belonged to a strong association. Regarding task strategies, we showed that inducing a disjunction strategy enhanced updating, no matter the strength of the association. Results were discussed in the light of updating as a process of dismantling and recreating associations. The role of a specific strategic approach in enhancing the updating was also discussed.”

Written by: Caterina Artuso, Paola Palladino
For full text: https://doi.org/10.3758/s13421-017-0764-6

Does neighborhood size really cause the word length effect?

Does neighborhood size really cause the word length effect?

Published in: Memory & Cognition, Volume 46, Issue 2, 244-260

Abstract
“In short-term serial recall, it is well-known that short words are remembered better than long words. This word length effect has been the cornerstone of the working memory model and a benchmark effect that all models of immediate memory should account for. Currently, there is no consensus as to what determines the word length effect. Jalbert and colleagues (Jalbert, Neath, Bireta, & Surprenant, 2011a; Jalbert, Neath, & Surprenant, 2011b) suggested that neighborhood size is one causal factor. In six experiments we systematically examined their suggestion. In Experiment 1, with an immediate serial recall task, multiple word lengths, and a large pool of words controlled for neighborhood size, the typical word length effect was present. In Experiments 2 and 3, with an order reconstruction task and words with either many or few neighbors, we observed the typical word length effect. In Experiment 4 we tested the hypothesis that the previous abolition of the word length effect when neighborhood size was controlled was due to a confounded factor: frequency of orthographic structure. As predicted, we reversed the word length effect when using short words with less frequent orthographic structures than the long words, as was done in both of Jalbert et al.’s studies. In Experiments 5 and 6, we again observed the typical word length effect, even if we controlled for neighborhood size and frequency of orthographic structure. Overall, the results were not consistent with the predictions of Jalbert et al. and clearly showed a large and reliable word length effect after controlling for neighborhood size.”

Written by: Dominic Guitard, Jean Saint-Aubin, Gerald Tehan, Anne Tolan
For full text: https://doi.org/10.3758/s13421-017-0761-9

Item strength affects working memory capacity

Item strength affects working memory capacity

Published in: Memory & Cognition, Volume 46, Issue 2, 204-215

Abstract
“Do the processing and online manipulation of stimuli that are less familiar require more working memory (WM) resources? Is it more difficult to solve demanding problems when the symbols involved are less rather than more familiar? We explored these questions with a dual-task paradigm in which subjects had to solve algebra problems of different complexities while simultaneously holding novel symbol–digit associations in WM. The symbols were previously unknown Chinese characters, whose familiarity was manipulated by differential training frequency with a visual search task for nine hour-long sessions over 3 weeks. Subsequently, subjects solved equations that required one or two transformations. Before each trial, two different integers were assigned to two different Chinese characters of the same training frequency. Half of the time, those characters were present as variables in the equation and had to be substituted for the corresponding digits. After attempting to solve the equation, subjects had to recognize which two characters were shown immediately before that trial and to recall the integer associated with each. Solution accuracy and response times were better when the problems required one transformation only; variable substitution was not required; or the Chinese characters were high frequency. The effects of stimulus familiarity increased as the WM demands of the equation increased. Character–digit associations were also recalled less well with low-frequency characters. These results provide strong support that WM capacity depends not only on the number of chunks of information one is attempting to process but also on their strength or familiarity.”

Written by: Zhangfan Shen, Vencislav Popov, Anita B. Delahay, Lynne M. Reder
For full text: https://doi.org/10.3758/s13421-017-0758-4

Neural bases of automaticity

Neural bases of automaticity

Published in: Journal of Experimental Psychology: Learning, Memory, and Cognition, Volume 44, Issue 3, 440-464

Abstract
“Automaticity allows us to perform tasks in a fast, efficient, and effortless manner after sufficient practice. Theories of automaticity propose that across practice processing transitions from being controlled by working memory to being controlled by long-term memory retrieval. Recent event-related potential (ERP) studies have sought to test this prediction, however, these experiments did not use the canonical paradigms used to study automaticity. Specifically, automaticity is typically studied using practice regimes with consistent mapping between targets and distractors and spaced practice with individual targets, features that these previous studies lacked. The aim of the present work was to examine whether the practice-induced shift from working memory to long-term memory inferred from subjects’ ERPs is observed under the conditions in which automaticity is traditionally studied. We found that to be the case in 3 experiments, firmly supporting the predictions of theories. In addition, we found that the temporal distribution of practice (massed vs. spaced) modulates the shape of learning curves. The ERP data revealed that the switch to long-term memory is slower for spaced than massed practice, suggesting that memory systems are used in a strategic manner. This finding provides new constraints for theories of learning and automaticity.”

Written by: Mathieu Servant, Peter Cassey, Geoffrey F. Woodman, Gordon D. Logan
For full text: http://dx.doi.org/10.1037/xlm0000454

Phonological recoding under articulatory suppression

Phonological recoding under articulatory suppression

Published in: Memory & Cognition, Volume 46, Issue 2, 173-180

Abstract
“We report data from an experiment in which participants performed immediate serial recall of visually presented words with or without articulatory suppression, while also performing homophone or rhyme detection. The separation between homophonous or rhyming pairs in the list was varied. According to the working memory model (Baddeley, 1986; Baddeley & Hitch, 1974), suppression should prevent articulatory recoding. Nevertheless, rhyme and homophone detection was well above chance. However, with suppression, participants showed a greater tendency to false-alarm to orthographically related foils (e.g., GIVE–FIVE). This pattern is similar to that observed in short-term memory patients.”

Written by: Dennis Norris, Sally Butterfield, Jane Hall, Michael P.A. Page
For full text: https://doi.org/10.3758/s13421-017-0754-8

Primacy and recency effects for taste

Primacy and recency effects for taste

Published in: Journal of Experimental Psychology: Learning, Memory, and Cognition, Volume 44, Issue 3, 399-405

Abstract
“Historically, much of what we know about human memory has been discovered in experiments using visual and verbal stimuli. In two experiments, participants demonstrated reliably high recognition for nonverbal liquids. In Experiment 1, participants showed high accuracy for recognizing tastes (bitter, salty, sour, sweet) over a 30-s delay in a recognition task, even when the probe stimulus was only a different concentration within the same taste. In Experiment 2, participants tasted three liquids and showed both primacy and recency effects in a serial-position recognition task with varying delay lengths (15, 30, 45, 60 s). Recognition for liquids at the end of a list was most evident with shorter delay lengths (i.e., recency). Recognition for liquids at the start of the list was most evident with longer delay lengths (i.e., primacy). These data show that not only is gustatory information stored and maintained in working memory, but that memory for these liquids follow a recency-to-primacy shift in recognition memory.”

Written by: Thomas A. Daniel, Jeffrey S. Katz
For full text: http://dx.doi.org/10.1037/xlm0000437

Working memory load and the retro-cue effect: A diffusion model account

Working memory load and the retro-cue effect: A diffusion model account

Published in: Journal of Experimental Psychology: Human Perception and Performance, Volume 44, Issue 2, 286-310

Abstract
“Retro-cues (i.e., cues presented between the offset of a memory array and the onset of a probe) have consistently been found to enhance performance in working memory tasks, sometimes ameliorating the deleterious effects of increased memory load. However, the mechanism by which retro-cues exert their influence remains a matter of debate. To inform this debate, we applied a hierarchical diffusion model to data from 4 change detection experiments using single item, location-specific probes (i.e., a local recognition task) with either visual or verbal memory stimuli. Results showed that retro-cues enhanced the quality of information entering the decision process—especially for visual stimuli—and decreased the time spent on nondecisional processes. Further, cues interacted with memory load primarily on nondecision time, decreasing or abolishing load effects. To explain these findings, we propose an account whereby retro-cues act primarily to reduce the time taken to access the relevant representation in memory upon probe presentation, and in addition protect cued representations from visual interference.”

Written by: Peter Shepherdson, Klaus Oberauer, Alessandra S. Souza
For full text: http://dx.doi.org/10.1037/xhp0000448

Combined effects of form- and meaning-based predictability on perceived clarity of speech

Combined effects of form- and meaning-based predictability on perceived clarity of speech

Published in: Journal of Experimental Psychology: Human Perception and Performance, Volume 44, Issue 2, 277-285

Abstract
“The perceptual clarity of speech is influenced by more than just the acoustic quality of the sound; it also depends on contextual support. For example, a degraded sentence is perceived to be clearer when the content of the speech signal is provided with matching text (i.e., form-based predictability) before hearing the degraded sentence. Here, we investigate whether sentence-level semantic coherence (i.e., meaning-based predictability), enhances perceptual clarity of degraded sentences, and if so, whether the mechanism is the same as that underlying enhancement by matching text. We also ask whether form- and meaning-based predictability are related to individual differences in cognitive abilities. Twenty participants listened to spoken sentences that were either clear or degraded by noise vocoding and rated the clarity of each item. The sentences had either high or low semantic coherence. Each spoken word was preceded by the homologous printed word (matching text), or by a meaningless letter string (nonmatching text). Cognitive abilities were measured with a working memory test. Results showed that perceptual clarity was significantly enhanced both by matching text and by semantic coherence. Importantly, high coherence enhanced the perceptual clarity of the degraded sentences even when they were preceded by matching text, suggesting that the effects of form- and meaning-based predictions on perceptual clarity are independent and additive. However, when working memory capacity indexed by the Size-Comparison Span Test was controlled for, only form-based predictions enhanced perceptual clarity, and then only at some sound quality levels, suggesting that prediction effects are to a certain extent dependent on cognitive abilities.”

Written by: Carine Signoret, Ingrid Johnsrude, Elisabet Classon, Mary Rudner
For full text: http://dx.doi.org/10.1037/xhp0000442

Skip to toolbar