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Inverting the modality effect in serial recall

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Differences in recall ability between immediate serial recall of auditorily and visually presented verbal material have traditionally been considered restricted to the end of to-be-recalled lists, the recency section of the serial position curve (e.g., Crowder & Morton, 1969). Later studies showed that—under certain circumstances—differences in recall between the two modalities can be observed across the whole of the list (Frankish, 1985). However in all these studies the advantage observed is for recall of material presented in the auditorily modality. Six separate conditions across four experiments demonstrate that a visual advantage can be obtained with serial recall if participants are required to recall the list in two distinct sections using serial recall. Judged on a list-wide basis, the visual advantage is of equivalent size to the auditory advantage of the classical modality effect. The results demonstrate that differences in representation of auditory and visual verbal material in short-term memory persist beyond lexical and phonological categorization and are problematic for current theories of the modality effect.

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: University of Reading, Reading, UK

Publication date: April 1, 2002


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