The list strength effect in cued recall

Jack H. Wilson, Amy H. Criss

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

18 Scopus citations


Episodic memory is the process by which information about experienced events is encoded and retrieved. Successful retrieval of episodic memories is dependent on the way in which memory is tested and as a result many effects and theories of episodic memory are task dependent. One such finding is the list strength effect. In free recall, a positive list strength effect is observed; memory for a given item is harmed by the presence of other strongly encoded items and helped by the presence of other weakly encoded items. In recognition, a null list strength is observed; memory for a given item is unaffected by the strength of other items. Such differential empirical findings are crucial to understanding memory, but it is undesirable to have multiple task-specific theories rather than a unified theory of memory. Here we use cued recall, a task that shares properties of both free recall and recognition, to move toward that goal. In a series of 5 experiments, we observed a null list strength effect in cued recall. We suggest that a successful theory would entail the use of both item and context information during retrieval, consistent with the approach of the Search of Associative Memory model.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)78-88
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of Memory and Language
StatePublished - Aug 1 2017


  • Cued recall
  • Episodic memory
  • List strength effect
  • Models of memory

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuropsychology and Physiological Psychology
  • Language and Linguistics
  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
  • Linguistics and Language
  • Artificial Intelligence


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