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Experiment Author: Susan Campbell. Adapted from STEP and used with permission of Brian MacWhinney
Used a probe-digit task. Participants were given lists of 16 digits, in which the probe digit appeared only once. They were asked not to rehearse the previous digits, but rather to concentrate on the digit they had just heard at any given time. They were then probed at the end of the list with the digit and asked to report which digit followed it in the list. Lists were presented at 1 or 4 per second auditorially in the original study. The two variants presented here are a very small script that presents digits visually and a very large script with a .wav file for each list. Eventually, we plan to offer a version that is smaller but presents auditory stimuli (using a .wav file for each digit, such that there are 10 small files, not 100 large ones).
The experimenters found that their results showed that forgetting varied with the number of digits presented between the probe and the end of the list, but not with the time between the probe and the end of the list. This suggested, therefore, that forgetting was interference based rather than time based.
This experiment has two different tasks split into different experiment files. "Primary Memory" is based on visual memory and "Primary Memory 2" on aural memory. Both tasks run a list of digits, one experiment shows digits on-screen and the other plays the digits through speakers. At the end of each series of numbers, there is a target digit, colored in green or followed by a beep. Enter the digit from the series of numbers that followed the target digit. Both experiments have 18 trials each.
Waugh, N. C. and Norman, D. A. (1965). Primary Memory. Psychological Review 72 (2), 89-104.
Cited Experiment Abstract
A model for short-term memory is described and evaluated. A variety of experimental data are shown to be consistent with the following statements. (a) Unrehearsed verbal stimuli tend to be quickly forgotten because they are interfered with by later items in a series and not because their traces decay in time. (b) Rehearsal may transfer an item from a very limited primary memory store to a larger and more stable secondary store. (c) A recently perceived item may be retained in both stores at the same time. The properties of these 2 independent memory systems can be separated by experimental and analytical methods.
Works Cited by the Experiment
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STEP: Some Tests of the Decay Theory of Immediate Memory 
STEP: Short-term Retention of Individual Verbal Items 
STEP: The Information Available in Brief Visual Presentations 
STEP: Availability Versus Accessibility of Information in Memory for Words 
STEP: The Role of Rehearsal in Short-Term Memory 
STEP: Depth of Processing and the Retention of Words in Episodic Memory 
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