Compound cuing in free recall

Lynn J. Lohnas, Michael J. Kahana

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

39 Scopus citations


According to the retrieved context theory of episodic memory, the cue for recall of an item is a weighted sum of recently activated cognitive states, including previously recalled and studied items as well as their associations. We show that this theory predicts there should be compound cuing in free recall. Specifically, the temporal contiguity effect should be greater when the 2 most recently recalled items were studied in contiguous list positions. A meta-analysis of published free recall experiments demonstrates evidence for compound cuing in both conditional response probabilities and interresponse times. To help rule out a rehearsal-based account of these compound cuing effects, we conducted an experiment with immediate, delayed, and continual-distractor free recall conditions. Consistent with retrieved context theory but not with a rehearsal-based account, compound cuing was present in all conditions, and was not significantly influenced by the presence of interitem distractors

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)12-24
Number of pages13
JournalJournal of Experimental Psychology: Learning Memory and Cognition
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2014
Externally publishedYes


  • Compound cuing
  • Free recall
  • Memory

ASJC Scopus subject areas

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


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