University Of Tasmania

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Modeling the dynamics of recognition memory testing with an integrated model of retrieval and decision making

journal contribution
posted on 2023-05-19, 21:15 authored by Osaf, AF, Jansson, A, Dennis, S, Heathcote, A
A robust finding in recognition memory is that performance declines monotonically across test trials. Despite the prevalence of this decline, there is a lack of consensus on the mechanism responsible. Three hypotheses have been put forward: (1) interference is caused by learning of test items (2) the test items cause a shift in the context representation used to cue memory and (3) participants change their speed-accuracy thresholds through the course of testing. We implemented all three possibilities in a combined model of recognition memory and decision making, which inherits the memory retrieval elements of the Osth and Dennis (2015) model and uses the diffusion decision model (DDM: Ratcliff, 1978) to generate choice and response times. We applied the model to four datasets that represent three challenges, the findings that: (1) the number of test items plays a larger role in determining performance than the number of studied items, (2) performance decreases less for strong items than weak items in pure lists but not in mixed lists, and (3) lexical decision trials interspersed between recognition test trials do not increase the rate at which performance declines. Analysis of the model’s parameter estimates suggests that item interference plays a weak role in explaining the effects of recognition testing, while context drift plays a very large role. These results are consistent with prior work showing a weak role for item noise in recognition memory and that retrieval is a strong cause of context change in episodic memory.


Publication title

Cognitive Psychology








School of Psychological Sciences


Academic Press Inc Elsevier Science

Place of publication

525 B St, Ste 1900, San Diego, USA, Ca, 92101-4495

Rights statement

Copyright 2018 Elsevier Inc.

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  • Restricted

Socio-economic Objectives

Expanding knowledge in psychology