Long term implicit and explicit memory for briefly studied words

Abstract

Memories fade over time, but do they disappear altogether? The persistence of overlearned material has been regarded as evidence for permanent memories (Bahrick, 1984). However there seems a general consensus in the cognitive literature that briefly studied stimuli disappear from memory altogether (Wixted, 2004ab). We present evidence from implicit (stem completion) and explicit (stem cued recall) memory tasks showing well above chance performance 28 days after only one brief study event. Retention measured by both the implicit and explicit tasks was stable at the same level from seven days to 28 days. Our results question the consensus about the fate of memories for briefly studied stimuli.


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