The shape of things to come: Evaluating word frequency as a continuous variable in recognition memory

Pernille Hemmer, Amy H. Criss

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

10 Scopus citations

Abstract

The role of experience in memory, specifically the word frequency (WF) mirror effect showing higher hit rates and lower false alarm rates for low-frequency words, is one of the hallmarks of memory. However, this "regularity of memory" is limited because normative WF has been treated as discrete (low vs. high). We evaluate the extent to which the prototypical WF mirror effect holds when WF is treated as a continuous variable. We find a clear nonmonotonic U-shaped relationship. Hit rates are higher for both low-frequency and high-frequency words. Linear and quadratic regression models were fit to the data at both the item and the participant level, and the quadratic model provided a better fit at both levels. This finding is inconsistent with the empirical and theoretical finding of a mirror effect and requires a novel approach to accounting for the role of experience in episodic memory.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1947-1952
Number of pages6
JournalJournal of Experimental Psychology: Learning Memory and Cognition
Volume39
Issue number6
DOIs
StatePublished - Nov 1 2013

Keywords

  • Episodic memory
  • Memory models
  • Mirror effect
  • Recognition memory
  • Word recognition

ASJC Scopus subject areas

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

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