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Recent theories suggest that performance on working memory (WM) tasks involves retrieval from long-term memory (LTM). To examine whether WM and LTM tests have common principles, Craik and Tulving's (1975) levels-of-processing paradigm, which is known to affect LTM, was administered as a WM task: Participants made uppercase, rhyme, or category-membership judgments about words, and immediate recall of the words was required after every 3 or 8 processing judgments. In Experiment 1, immediate recall did not demonstrate a levels-of-processing effect, but a subsequent LTM test (delayed recognition) of the same words did show a benefit of deeper processing. Experiment 2 showed that surprise immediate recall of 8-item lists did demonstrate a levels-of-processing effect, however. A processing account of the conditions in which levels-of-processing effects are and are not found in WM tasks was advanced, suggesting that the extent to which levels-of-processing effects are similar between WM and LTM tests largely depends on the amount of disruption to active maintenance processes.


Institute for Health and Ageing

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Journal Article

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