Rapid Presentation Rate Negatively Impacts the Contiguity Effect in Free Recall

AbstractIt is well-known that in free recall participants tend to recall words presented close together in time in sequence, reflecting a form of temporal binding in memory. This contiguity effect is robust, having been observed across many different experimental manipulations. In order to explore a potential boundary on the contiguity effect, participants performed a free recall task in which items were presented at rates ranging from 2 Hz to 8 Hz. Participants were still able to recall items even at the fastest presentation rate, though accuracy decreased. Importantly, the contiguity effect flattened as presentation rates increased. These findings illuminate possible constraints on the temporal encoding of episodic memories.


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