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J Exp Psychol Learn Mem Cogn. 2001 Jan;27(1):54-66.

von Restorff revisited: isolation, generation, and memory for order.

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Department of Psychological Sciences, Purdue University, West Lafayette, Indiana 47907-1364, USA.


The effects of isolation and generation on memory for order were investigated in 4 experiments. Experiments 1 and 2 examined the effect of isolation on order retention. Previous investigations in this area have yielded equivocal results. Experiments 1 and 2 revealed that isolation enhances memory for order: Isolated items were repositioned more accurately than comparable items in control lists. Experiments 3 and 4 investigated the effect of generation on order retention. These experiments revealed that generation can enhance, disrupt, or have no effect on memory for order, depending on the relative number of generated items appearing within a list. Implications of these results for general theoretical accounts of isolation effects in memory are discussed. A simplified version of the feature model (J. S. Nairne, 1990) is shown to provide a general account of isolation effects.

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