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      A power-law model of psychological memory strength in short- and long-term recognition.

      Psychological Science

      Recognition (Psychology), Reaction Time, Models, Psychological, Memory, Short-Term, Memory, Long-Term, Humans

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          Abstract

          A classic law of cognition is that forgetting curves are closely approximated by power functions. This law describes relations between different empirical dependent variables and the retention interval, and the precise form of the functional relation depends on the scale used to measure each variable. In the research reported here, we conducted a recognition task involving both short- and long-term probes. We discovered that formal memory-strength parameters from an exemplar-recognition model closely followed a power function of the lag between studied items and a test probe. The model accounted for rich sets of response time (RT) data at both individual-subject and individual-lag levels. Because memory strengths were derived from model fits to choices and RTs from individual trials, the psychological power law was independent of the scale used to summarize the forgetting functions. Alternative models that assumed different functional relations or posited a separate fixed-strength working memory store fared considerably worse than the power-law model did in predicting the data.

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          Journal
          10.1177/0956797611430961
          22527527

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