Previous studies have reported that, in contrast to the effect on immediate serial recall, lexical/semantic factors have little effect on immediate serial recognition. This has been taken as evidence that linguistic knowledge contributes to verbal short-term memory in a redintegrative process at recall. Contrary to this view, we found that lexicality, frequency, and imageability all influenced matching span. The standard matching span task, requiring changes in item order to be detected, was less susceptible to lexical/semantic factors than was a novel task involving the detection of phoneme order and hence item identity changes. Therefore, in both immediate recognition and immediate serial recall, lexical/semantic knowledge makes a greater contribution to item identity than to item order memory. Task sensitivity, and not the absence of overt recall, may have underpinned previous failures to show effects of these variables in immediate recognition. We also compared matching span for pure and unpredictable mixed lists of words and nonwords. Lexicality had a larger impact on immediate recognition for pure than for mixed lists, in line with findings for immediate serial recall. List composition affected the detection of phoneme but not item order changes in matching span; similarly, in recall, mixed lists produce more frequent word phoneme migrations but not migrations of entire items. These results point to strong similarities between immediate serial recall and recognition. Lexical/semantic knowledge may contribute to phonological stability in both tasks.
|Quarterly Journal of Experimental Psychology
|Published - 2006