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Q J Exp Psychol (Hove). 2017 Jul;70(7):1344-1352. doi: 10.1080/17470218.2016.1183686. Epub 2016 May 18.

Experience and information loss in auditory and visual memory.

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a Department of Psychology , University of Wisconsin-Parkside , Kenosha , WI , USA.


Recent studies show that recognition memory for sounds is inferior to memory for pictures. Four experiments were conducted to examine the nature of auditory and visual memory. Experiments 1-3 were conducted to evaluate the role of experience in auditory and visual memory. Participants received a study phase with pictures/sounds, followed by a recognition memory test. Participants then completed auditory training with each of the sounds, followed by a second memory test. Despite auditory training in Experiments 1 and 2, visual memory was superior to auditory memory. In Experiment 3, we found that it is possible to improve auditory memory, but only after 3 days of specific auditory training and 3 days of visual memory decay. We examined the time course of information loss in auditory and visual memory in Experiment 4 and found a trade-off between visual and auditory recognition memory: Visual memory appears to have a larger capacity, while auditory memory is more enduring. Our results indicate that visual and auditory memory are inherently different memory systems and that differences in visual and auditory recognition memory performance may be due to the different amounts of experience with visual and auditory information, as well as structurally different neural circuitry specialized for information retention.


Auditory memory; Long-term memory; Recognition memory; Visual memory

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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