Common Modality Effects in Immediate Free Recall and Immediate Serial Recall

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Abstract

In 2 experiments, participants were presented with lists of between 2 and 12 words for either immediate free recall (IFR) or immediate serial recall (ISR). Auditory recall advantages at the end of the list (modality effects) and visual recall advantages early in the list (inverse modality effects) were observed in both tasks and the extent and magnitude of these effects were dependent upon list length. Both tasks displayed modality effects with short lists that were large in magnitude but limited to the final serial position, consistent with those observed in the typically short lists used in ISR, and both tasks displayed modality effects with longer lists that were small in magnitude and more extended across multiple end-of-list positions, consistent with those observed in the typically longer lists used in IFR. Inverse modality effects were also observed in both tasks at early list positions on longer lengths. Presentation modality did not affect where recall was initiated, but modality effects were greatest on trials where participants initiated recall with the first item. We argue for a unified account of IFR and ISR. We also assume that the presentation modality affects the encoding of all list items, and that modality effects emerge due to the greater resistance of auditory items to output interference.

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