The visual non-verbal memory trace is fragile when actively maintained but endures passively for tens of seconds
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AbstractDespite attempts at active maintenance in the focus of attention, the rather fragile nature of the visual non-verbal memory trace may be revealed when the retention interval between target memoranda and probed recall on a trial is extended. In contrast, a passively maintained, or unattended visual memory trace may be revealed as persisting proactive interference extending across quite extended intervals between trials in a recent probes task. The present study, comprising five experiments, used this task to explore the persistence of such a passive visual memory trace over time. Participants viewed some target visual items (for example, abstract colored patterns) followed by a variable retention interval and a probe item. The task was to report whether the probe matched one of the targets or not. A decaying active memory trace was indicated by poorer performance as the memory retention interval was extended on a trial. However, when the probe was a member of the target set from the preceding trial, task performance was poorer than a comparison novel probe, demonstrating proactive interference. Manipulations of the inter-trial interval revealed that the temporal persistence of the passive memory trace of an old target was impressive, and proactive interference was largely resilient to a simple ‘cued forgetting’ manipulation. These data support the proposed two-process memory conception (active-passive memory) contrasting fragile active memory traces decaying over a few seconds with robust passive traces extending to tens of seconds.
CitationMcKeown, D., Mercer, T., Bugajska, K. et al. The visual nonverbal memory trace is fragile when actively maintained, but endures passively for tens of seconds. Memory & Cognition 48, 212–225 (2020). https://doi.org/10.3758/s13421-019-01003-6
JournalMemory and Cognition
DescriptionThis is an accepted manuscript of an article published by Springer in Memory and Cognition on 23/12/2019, available online: https://link.springer.com/article/10.3758%2Fs13421-019-01003-6 The accepted version of the publication may differ from the final published version.
Except where otherwise noted, this item's license is described as https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/