Date of Award

Spring 5-15-2015

Author's School

Graduate School of Arts and Sciences

Author's Department


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Degree Type



Recent theories and evidence suggest working memory involves secondary memory as well as primary memory. It is unclear, however, if the secondary memory component of working memory is the same as the secondary memory component underlying episodic long-term memory. The present investigation explores this issue by examining whether manipulating encoding and retrieval cues on a short-term memory task produces similar effects as to what is typically seen on episodic long-term memory tasks. More specifically, it is commonly observed on episodic long-term memory tasks that retrieval cues that were not also present during encoding produces worse recall compared to retrieval cues that were present during encoding, as well as worse recall compared to if no cues were presented. Currently, it is unclear whether this finding, known as the encoding specificity principle, would also be observed in short-term memory tasks. In the current investigation, participants engaged in a modified operation span task where they learned weakly related word-pairs ("era : TIME"). During recall, participants were either provided the same cue from earlier in the series ("era"; match cue), a different cue that was not shown earlier in the series but was strongly associated with the target word ("life"; mismatch cue), or were asked to free recall the target word (no cue). Under conditions in which performance was predicted to rely on secondary memory, performance in the no cue condition was better than the mismatch condition, consistent with the encoding specificity principle (Thomson & Tulving, 1970). Importantly, when performance was not predicted to rely on secondary memory, performance between the mismatch and no cue conditions did not differ. These results suggest that working memory relies on the same secondary memory component as episodic long-term memory tasks only under conditions predicted by a dual-component model of working memory (Unsworth & Engle, 2007).


English (en)

Chair and Committee

Sandra S Hale

Committee Members

Joel Myerson, David A Balota, Henry L Roediger, Carl Craver


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Psychology Commons