Understanding the dynamics of correct and error responses in free recall: Evidence from externalized free recall

Nash Unsworth, Gene A. Brewer, Gregory J. Spillers

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

14 Scopus citations


The dynamics of correct and error responses in a variant of delayed free recall were examined in the present study. In the externalized free recall paradigm, participants were presented with lists of words and were instructed to subsequently recall not only the words that they could remember from the most recently presented list, but also any other words that came to mind during the recall period. Externalized free recall is useful for elucidating both sampling and postretrieval editing processes, thereby yielding more accurate estimates of the total number of error responses, which are typically sampled and subsequently edited during free recall. The results indicated that the participants generally sampled correct items early in the recall period and then transitioned to sampling more erroneous responses. Furthermore, the participants generally terminated their search after sampling too many errors. An examination of editing processes suggested that the participants were quite good at identifying errors, but this varied systematically on the basis of a number of factors. The results from the present study are framed in terms of generate-edit models of free recall.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)419-430
Number of pages12
JournalMemory and Cognition
Issue number4
StatePublished - Jun 2010
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuropsychology and Physiological Psychology
  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)


Dive into the research topics of 'Understanding the dynamics of correct and error responses in free recall: Evidence from externalized free recall'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this