Author's School

Graduate School of Arts & Sciences

Author's Department/Program



English (en)

Date of Award

January 2010

Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Chair and Committee

Joel Myerson


Recent studies have raised questions about the extent to which working memory: WM) is dissociable from secondary or long-term memory: LTM). Although many similarities may exist between immediate retrieval on WM span tasks and delayed retrieval on LTM tests, important differences exist as well. To illustrate this point, Craik and Tulving's classic levels-of-processing paradigm was adapted for use in a WM span task: Participants made visual, phonological, or semantic judgments about 33 words using the same stimuli and instructions as Craik and Tulving: 1975), but were to recall words immediately after every 3 or 8 words: rather than after all words were processed). In the context of this WM span task: Experiment 1), no benefit of deeper processing occurred on immediate recall, even though subsequent recognition of the same items showed the classic levels-of-processing effect. However, when words were processed in the same way but immediate recall was not required: Experiment 2), surprise immediate recall tests did demonstrate a levels-of-processing effect, but only for supraspan: 8-item) lists. These results demonstrate both similarities and differences between WM and LTM. One way in which both similarities and differences between WM and LTM might be reconciled is within a transfer-appropriate-processing account of the WM/LTM distinction. That is, the WM/LTM distinction depends on the extent to which there is a match: or mismatch) between the processes that are used for initial encoding and subsequent retrieval. For example, when WM tests involved intentional encoding and active maintenance of to-be-remembered words: Experiment 1), a levels-of-processing effect was not observed. However, for surprise recall of supraspan: 8-item) lists in Experiment 2, initial processing was not directed at temporary maintenance for immediate recall: because the test came as a surprise), which made this situation similar to the LTM task. Under these conditions, a levels-of-processing effect: like that observed on LTM tasks) was observed on the WM span task, consistent with a transfer-appropriate-processing account of the WM/LTM distinction.


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