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Psychol Rev. 2008 Oct;115(4):893-912. doi: 10.1037/a0013396.

A context-based theory of recency and contiguity in free recall.

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Department of Psychology and Center for the Study of Brain, Mind, and Behavior, Princeton University, Princeton, NJ 08540, USA.


The authors present a new model of free recall on the basis of M. W. Howard and M. J. Kahana's temporal context model and M. Usher and J. L. McClelland's leaky-accumulator decision model. In this model, contextual drift gives rise to both short-term and long-term recency effects, and contextual retrieval gives rise to short-term and long-term contiguity effects. Recall decisions are controlled by a race between competitive leaky accumulators. The model captures the dynamics of immediate, delayed, and continual distractor free recall, demonstrating that dissociations between short- and long-term recency can naturally arise from a model in which an internal contextual state is used as the sole cue for retrieval across time scales.

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