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The Role of Semantic Representations in Verbal Working Memory

Loaiza, VM and Camos, V (2018) 'The Role of Semantic Representations in Verbal Working Memory.' Journal of Experimental Psychology: Learning, Memory, and Cognition, 44 (6). 863 - 881. ISSN 0278-7393

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Two main mechanisms, articulatory rehearsal and attentional refreshing, are argued to be involved in the maintenance of verbal information in working memory (WM). While converging research has suggested that rehearsal promotes the phonological representations of memoranda in working memory, little is known about the representations that refreshing may promote. Not only would examining this question address this gap in the literature, but the investigation has profound implications for different theoretical proposals of how refreshing functions and on the relationships between WM and long-term memory (LTM). Accordingly, we tested predictions from five models regarding how refreshing may moderate the semantic representation of memoranda in verbal WM. This series of four experiments presented a cue word that was either semantically or phonologically related to a target during the recall phase of a complex span task. Experiment 1 established the benefit of semantic over phonological retrieval cues, and Experiment 2 established that this semantic benefit was specific to a refreshing- rather than a rehearsal-based maintenance strategy. Finally, we showed that this semantic benefit did not vary with the cognitive load of the concurrent task (Experiments 3 and 4) or the intention to learn the memoranda (Experiment 4). These results indicate that cue-based retrieval from episodic LTM may strongly contribute to semantic processing effects in WM recall, but this influence of episodic LTM is independent of the function of refreshing to reactivate memory traces. Accordingly, these results have strong implications for the functioning of refreshing and the links between WM and LTM.

Item Type: Article
Uncontrolled Keywords: working memory, attentional refreshing, semantic cues, long-term memory
Subjects: B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BF Psychology
Divisions: Faculty of Science and Health > Psychology, Department of
Depositing User: Vanessa Loaiza
Date Deposited: 03 Aug 2017 12:12
Last Modified: 13 Sep 2018 09:15

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