The Precise Time Course of Retention

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Fits of retention data were examined from 5 conditions: 3 types of cued recall, an old-new recognition task, and a remember-know recognition task. In each condition, 100 participants had either 18 recall or 27 recognition trials at each of 10 delays between 0 and 99 intervening items, providing the first data obtained in experimental psychology that were precise enough to distinguish clearly among simple functions. None of the 105 2-parameter functions tested produced adequate fits to the data. The function y = a 1e -t/1.15 + a 2e -t/T2 + a 3 fit each of the 5 retention conditions. The T 2 parameter in this equation equaled 28 for the 3 recall conditions and the remember-know recognition condition and 13 for the old-new recognition condition. Individuals' recall data fit the same function with parameters varying with gender and scholastic aptitude scores. Reaction times support the claim that the a 1e -t/1.15 term describes working memory, and the remaining 2 terms describe long-term memory.








David C. Rubin

Juanita M. Kreps Distinguished Professor of Psychology and Neuroscience

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My main research interest has been in long-term memory, especially for complex (or "real-world") stimuli. This work includes the study of autobiographical memory and oral traditions, as well as prose. I have also studied memory as it is more commonly done in experimental psychology laboratories using lists. In addition to this purely behavioral research, which I plan to continue, I work on memory in clinical populations with the aid of a National Institute of Mental Health grant to study PTSD and on the underlying neural basis of memory the aid of a National Institute of Aging grant to study autobiographical memory using fMRI.

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