Memory for Words: How does the number of remembered words affect memory? (2021 - Online!)


Recall is a type of memory involving the retrieval of information in the past. This research aims to understand recall by understanding what happens when we vary the length of the study list.

Research Questions / Hypotheses

1. To understand the mechanisms of recall - whether it's best characterised as: (a) Memory strengths competing with one another; or (b) Requiring more evidence to make a recall decision as the study list increases in length.

2. To understand whether Hick's Law, a benchmark for decision-making, generalises to free recall.


42 participants took part in the study. No exclusions were applied.


Participants complete several cycles of computer-based memory tasks investigating recall over one session. Each cycle consists of 1 study phase, 1 distractor phase, and 1 test phase and lasted approximately 30 seconds. In each cycle, participants were presented with items (i.e., words) on the computer screen and were required to remember each item. After the items are presented, they were tasked to validate a series of simple math problems (e.g., “3 + 2 + 5 = 10?”), replying whether the math problem previously presented was “True” or “False”. At test, they were required to recall the items presented on the study list by typing on the keyboard. The accuracy and speed of your responses were recorded by the computer for use in statistical analyses.


We planned to apply variants of the Linear Ballistic Accumulator (LBA; Brown & Heathcote, 2008) model to first recalls, varying the assumptions about how recall is initiated.


The model has not been fitted, but we expect the findings to be of theoretical relevant in understanding how recall is initiated. Most models of free recall have largely ignored distribution of response times, but this will be considered in our modelling. The results will be communicated through an Honours Thesis.