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J Exp Psychol Learn Mem Cogn. 1999 Sep;25(5):1120-36.

Practice and retention: a unifying analysis.

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Department of Psychology, Carnegie Mellon University, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania 15213, USA.


What is the strength of a memory trace that has received various practices at times tj in the past? The strength accumulation equation proposes the following: strength = sigma tj-d, where the summation is over the practices of the trace. This equation predicts both the power law of practice and the power law of retention. This article reports the fits of the predictions of this equation to 5 experiments. Across these experiments, participants received as many as 240 trials of practice distributed over intervals as long as 400 days. The experiments also varied whether participants were just practicing retrieving an item or practicing applying a relatively complex rule. A model based on this equation successfully fit all the data when it was assumed that the passage of psychological time slowed after the experimental session. The strength accumulation equation was compared with other conceptions of the retention function and the relationship of the retention function to the practice function.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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