Memory Recall

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A good recall cue either activates the desired information directly or activates it indirectly by first activating   related information. This is one explanation for the tip-of-the-tongue (TOT) phenomenon discussed earlier: Closely related information is activated first, with activation finally spreading to the desired word.

Spread of activation would also explain a phenomenon called priming: Information is often recalled more easily (rapidly) if closely related information has recently been recalled or activated (primed). For example, Meyer and Schvaneveldt (1971) asked subjects to decide as quickly as possible   whether the items in pairs of letter strings were both words (e.g., fitst-truck) or not (e.g,. roast-frist; flact-brive). Subjects recognized a pair of words faster if the two items were closely related (e.g., bread-butter; farm-barn) than if they weren’t (e.g., rope-crystal; nurse-steak). It was as if the first word the subjects processed activated or primed knowledge that was closely related, thus making a closely rebated word easier to recognize.

It has been argued that knowledge can be represented in long-term memoir by images or pictures as well as by propositional or verbal codes. This dual-coding view (Paivio, 1971) was encouraged by experiments of the sort described in the Highlight on visual memory. An alternative view (e,g., Anderson, 1978) is that information in long-term memory is always represented in a propositional code. We may simply construct a ”mental image” as we retrieve this information just as we visualize a scene described verbally in a novel.

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