Human Memory Systems: Part 2 of 5

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This shows how many items were recalled after various periods of study, given a three-minute instead of a one-minute recall period. Items that aren’t recalled in one minute may still be recalled when subjects are given enough time. Some common recall tasks are naming each state in the United States, or answering such questions as ”What is her name?” or “What is your phone number?” The more you use or study an item of information, the more likely you are to recall it. However. recall often takes some time, even when you are quite confident that it will occur promptly. How often have you felt that the correct answer is on the tip of your tongue, and not been able to produce it? This tip-of-the-tongue (TOT) phenomenon suggests that recall is an alive process that requires both time and concentration.

Sometimes you may have the TOT experience and finally give up trying to recall some fact only to find a few moments later that the fact pops into your mind without any further conscious effort on your part. In order to control more precisely the amount of time each word in a recall list is available for study experimenters often present the words seriously (one after another), so that subjects see each word for the same length of time. With this kind of presentation, words at the beginning and end of the list are more likely to be recalled than those in the middle. This is called the serial position effect and is illustrated in graph form.

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