Working Memory Has Better Fidelity Than Long-Term Memory: The Fidelity Constraint Is Not a General Property of Memory After All

Natalie Biderman, Roy Luria, Andrei R. Teodorescu, Ron Hajaj, Yonatan Goshen-Gottstein

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

How detailed are long-term-memory representations compared with working memory representations? Recent research has found an equal fidelity bound for both memory systems, suggesting a novel general constraint on memory. Here, we assessed the replicability of this discovery. Participants (total N = 72) were presented with colored real-life objects and were asked to recall the colors using a continuous color wheel. Deviations from study colors were modeled to generate two estimates of color memory: the variability of remembered colors—fidelity—and the probability of forgetting the color. Estimating model parameters using both maximum-likelihood estimation and Bayesian hierarchical modeling, we found that working memory had better fidelity than long-term memory (Experiments 1 and 2). Furthermore, within each system, fidelity worsened as a function of time-correlated mechanisms (Experiments 2 and 3). We conclude that fidelity is subject to decline across and within memory systems. Thus, the justification for a general fidelity constraint in memory does not seem to be valid.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)223-237
Number of pages15
JournalPsychological Science
Volume30
Issue number2
DOIs
StatePublished - 1 Feb 2019

Keywords

  • color memory
  • continuous-report paradigm
  • fidelity
  • long-term memory
  • open data
  • preregistered
  • replication
  • working memory

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