Do item-dependent context representations underlie serial order in cognition?

Osth, Adam and Hurlstone, Mark (2021) Do item-dependent context representations underlie serial order in cognition? Psychological Review. ISSN 0033-295X (In Press)

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Logan (2021) presented an impressive unification of serial order tasks including whole report, typing, and serial recall in the form of the context retrieval and updating (CRU) model. Despite the wide breadth of the model’s coverage, its reliance on encoding and retrieving context representations that consist of the previous items may prevent it from being able to address a number of critical benchmark findings in the serial order literature that have shaped and constrained existing theories. In this commentary, we highlight three major challenges that motivated the development of a rival class of models of serial order, namely positional models. These challenges include the mixed-list phonological similarity effect, the protrusion effect, and interposition errors in temporal grouping. Simulations indicated that CRU can address the mixed list phonological similarity effect if phonological confusions can occur during its output stage, suggesting that the serial position curves from this paradigm do not rule out models that rely on inter-item associations, as has been previously been suggested. The other two challenges are more consequential for the model’s representations, and simulations indicated the model was not able to provide a complete account of them. We highlight and discuss how revisions to CRU’s representations or retrieval mechanisms can address these phenomena and emphasize that a fruitful direction forward would be to either incorporate positional representations or approximate them with its existing representations.

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Journal Article
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Psychological Review
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©American Psychological Association, [Year]. This paper is not the copy of record and may not exactly replicate the authoritative document published in the APA journal. Please do not copy or cite without author's permission. The final article is available, upon publication, at: [ARTICLE DOI]
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Deposited On:
25 Nov 2021 13:45
In Press
Last Modified:
12 Feb 2024 00:43