Date of Award

5-2017

Document Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)

College/School

College of Humanities and Social Sciences

Department/Program

Psychology

Thesis Sponsor/Dissertation Chair/Project Chair

Joshua Sandry

Committee Member

Jennifer Pardo

Committee Member

Timothy Ricker

Abstract

Working memory (WM) is involved in temporary processing and maintenance of a limited amount of information. WM serves as an access-way to long-term memory (LTM). Individuals encode information into LTM best when the amount of information processed does not exceed the capacity limit of WM. Different strategies, like processing information in terms of future planning, improve verbal LTM performance, however, it is unclear if this results from increased efficiency in WM. This study aims to investigate how processing instructions manipulated at encoding alter associative memory binding as a function of WM capacity. Participants completed a computerized verbal WM word association task with lists of 3, 6, and 9 words. Processing instructions were manipulated between participants. The WM word association task was followed by a surprise recognition test to measure LTM and then a self-report questionnaire regarding memory strategy use. Results replicated past research and revealed a significant associative binding benefit for the within capacity 3 word list length across conditions. There was no difference as a function of processing instructions; however, the means were in the predicted direction of supporting a benefit of future planning instructions on improving associative memory binding and potentially increased capacity. Evaluation of the questionnaires suggested that participants used different encoding strategies when given incidental instructions (semantic strategies) versus planning instructions (relevance strategies). Most participants reported using semantics and familiarity strategies during the recognition task. Design limitations, potential implications and future directions are discussed.

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