Pushing Typists Back on the Learning Curve: Memory Chunking Improves Retrieval of Prior Typing Episodes

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Hierarchical control of skilled performance depends on chunking of several lower-level units into a single higher-level unit. The present study examined the relationship between chunking and recognition of trained materials in the context of typewriting. In 3 experiments, participants were trained with typing nonwords and were later tested on their recognition of the trained materials. In Experiment 1, participants typed the same words or nonwords in 5 consecutive trials while performing a concurrent memory task. In Experiment 2, participants typed the materials with lags between repetitions without a concurrent memory task. In both experiments, recognition of typing materials was associated with better chunking of the materials. Experiment 3 used the remember-know procedure to test the recollection and familiarity components of recognition. Remember judgments were associated with better chunking than know judgments or nonrecognition. These results indicate that chunking is associated with explicit recollection of prior typing episodes. The relevance of the existing memory models to chunking in typewriting was considered, and it is proposed that memory chunking improves retrieval of trained typing materials by integrating contextual cues into the memory traces.

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