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Mem Cognit. 2011 May;39(4):675-85. doi: 10.3758/s13421-010-0047-y.

The distance effect in numerical memory-updating tasks.

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Department of Psychology, University of Jaén, Paraje las lagunillas s/n, 23071, Jaén, Spain.


Two experiments examined the role of numerical distance in updating numerical information in working memory. In the first experiment, participants had to memorize a new number only when it was smaller than a previously memorized number. In the second experiment, updating was based on an external signal, which removed the need to perform any numerical comparison. In both experiments, distance between the memorized number and the new one was manipulated. The results showed that smaller distances between the new and the old information led to shorter updating times. This graded facilitation suggests that the process by which information is substituted in the focus of attention involves maintaining the shared features between the new and the old number activated and selecting other new features to be activated. Thus, the updating cost may be related to amount of new features to be activated in the focus of attention.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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