A causal contiguity effect that persists across time scales

Asli Kiliç, Amy H. Criss, Marc W. Howard

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

10 Scopus citations


The contiguity effect refers to the tendency to recall an item from nearby study positions of the just recalled item. Causal models of contiguity suggest that recalled items are used as probes, causing a change in the memory state for subsequent recall attempts. Noncausal models of the contiguity effect assume the memory state is unaffected by recall per se, relying instead on the correlation between the memory states at study and at test to drive contiguity. We examined the contiguity effect in a probed recall task in which the correlation between the study context and the test context was disrupted. After study of several lists of words, participants were given probe words in a random order and were instructed to recall a word from the same list as the probe. The results showed both short-term and long-term contiguity effects. Because study order and test order are uncorrelated, these contiguity effects require a causal contiguity mechanism that operates across time scales.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)297-303
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Experimental Psychology: Learning Memory and Cognition
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2013


  • Episodic memory
  • Memory models
  • Probed recall
  • Temporal contiguity effec

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
  • Language and Linguistics
  • Linguistics and Language


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