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J Exp Psychol Learn Mem Cogn. 2005 Nov;31(6):1235-49.

Chunk limits and length limits in immediate recall: a reconciliation.

Author information

1
Department of Psychological Sciences, University of Missouri-Columbia, Columbia, MO 65211, USA.

Abstract

Whereas some research on immediate recall of verbal lists has suggested that it is limited by the number of chunks that can be recalled (e.g., N. Cowan, Z. Chen, & J. N. Rouder, 2004; E. Tulving & J. E. Patkau, 1962), other research has suggested that it is limited by the length of the material to be recalled (e.g., A. D. Baddeley, N. Thomson, & M. Buchanan, 1975). The authors investigated this question by teaching new paired associations between words to create 2-word chunks. The results suggest that both chunk capacity limits and length limits come into play. For the free recall of 12-word lists, 6 pre-learned pairs could be recalled about as well as 6 pre-exposed singletons, suggesting a chunk limit. However, for the serially ordered recall of 8-word lists, 4 pre-learned pairs could be recalled about as well as 8 pre-exposed singletons, suggesting a length limit. Other conditions yielded intermediate results suggesting that sometimes both limits may operate together.

PMID:
16393043
PMCID:
PMC2673719
DOI:
10.1037/0278-7393.31.6.1235
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article

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