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Active and Passive Processing during Primary Rehearsal

James S. Nairne
The American Journal of Psychology
Vol. 99, No. 3 (Autumn, 1986), pp. 301-314
DOI: 10.2307/1422487
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/1422487
Page Count: 14
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Active and Passive Processing during Primary Rehearsal
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Abstract

Two incidental learning experiments examined the formation of interitem associations under task demands that encouraged different types of rehearsal in short-term memory. Subjects were assumed to engage in "passive" primary rehearsal when the task required them merely to keep information available in memory until the appearance of a decision word. "Active" primary rehearsal, on the other hand, required interactive processing of the stored material continuously throughout the rehearsal interval. The main question of interest asked whether active as opposed to passive rehearsal would typically lead to continued growth in interitem associative learning, even though no final memory test was anticipated. The results suggested that associative learning will not continue to develop as a simple by-product of attention, or temporal contiguity; rather, rehearsal will promote the formation of associations only while the subject continues to look for "relations" among co-rehearsed items. These data are discussed in terms of the distinction between primary and secondary rehearsal processes and from the perspective of the "working memory" model of Baddeley and Hitch (1974).

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