Updating of working memory: lingering bindings

Klaus Oberauer, Kerstin Vockenberg

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Three experiments investigated proactive interference and proactive facilitation in a memory-updating paradigm. Participants remembered several letters or spatial patterns, distinguished by their spatial positions, and updated them by new stimuli up to 20 times per trial. Self-paced updating times were shorter when an item previously remembered and then replaced reappears in the same location, compared to when it reappeared in a different location. This effect demonstrates residual memory for no-longer relevant bindings of items to locations. The effect increased with the number of items to be remembered. With one exception, updating times did not increase, and recall of final values did not decrease, over successive updating steps, thus providing little evidence for proactive interference building up cumulatively.


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