Short-term memory loss over time without retroactive stimulus interference

Nelson Cowan, Angela M. AuBuchon

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

37 Scopus citations


A key question in cognitive psychology is whether information in short-term memory is lost as a function of time. Lewandowsky, Duncan, and Brown (2004) argued against that memory loss because forgetting in serial recall occurred to the same extent across serial positions regardless of the rate of recall. However, we believe Lewandowsky et al. (2004) only prevented one of two types of rehearsal; they did not prevent nonarticulatory rehearsal via attention. To prevent articulatory and nonarticulatory rehearsal without introducing interference, we presented unevenly timed stimuli for serial recall and, on some trials, required that the timing of stimuli be reproduced in the response. In those trials only, evidence of memory loss over time emerged. Further research is needed to identify whether this memory loss is decay or lost distinctiveness.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)230-235
Number of pages6
JournalPsychonomic Bulletin and Review
Issue number1
StatePublished - Feb 2008
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)

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