British Journal of Psychology

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Volume 55 Issue 1 (February 1964), Pages 1-120


Sequences of 6 letters of the alphabet were visually presented for immediate recall to 387 subjects. Errors showed a systematic relationship to original stimuli. This is held to meet a requirement of the decay theory of immediate memory.

The same letter vocabulary was used in a test in which subjects were required to identify the letters spoken against a white noise background. A highly significant correlation was found between letters which confused in the listening test, and letters which confused in recall.

The role of neurological noise in recall is discussed in relation to these results. It is further argued that information theory is inadequate to explain the memory span, since the nature of the stimulus set, which can be defined quantitatively, as well as the information per item, is likely to be a determining factor.

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