Interference with Memory by a Suffix

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Last updated: April 12, 2019

Memory refers to the processes that are used to acquire, store, retain and later retrieve information. The three major processes involved with memory include encoding, storage and retrieval. The ability to retrieve is different in every human and psychologists have tried to identify the ability of retrieval through interferences.

While information can be retrieved through a primary effect, remembering recent numbers or letters on a list and the recency effect, remembering the last few numbers or letters. Interference occurs when something else intrudes or disrupts retrieval therefore unable to retrieve the number or letter. A suffix usually acts as this interference, it is an additional item to a list similar to items on the list but the suffix does not need to be recalled.

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A Suffix EffectMultiple studies have been conducted where psychologists have tried to exceed the capacity of short-term memory. Typically, a bell curve would be shown otherwise known as the serial position function. The serial position function describes how recall is significantly better in the first few (primacy effect) or last few (recency effect) items of a list. In auditory conditions, the addition of an extra item at the end of a list usually debilitates recall for the concluding items, even as instructed to ignore the suffix. The elimination of the recency effect is known as the suffix effect (Crowder, 1967; Crowder & Morton, 1969).Many researchers assume that working memory can be divided into separate components for the storage of visual and verbal materials (Baddeley, 1978).

Moreover, within the visual modality, working memory can be divided into a high-capacity sensory memory and a relatively limited-capacity short-term memory (Phillips, 1974). Kathryn T. Spoher and William J.

Coring conducted a study to identify whether or not the recency effect was caused by the subject’ ability to use the information from the final list of items in PAS or if it was due to an increase likelihood that codes for final list items appear in the STM (short-term memory) during recall. The precategorical acoustic store, or PAS is a sensory storage system that lasts for as long as two seconds and contains auditory information in an unprocessed form.Throughout procedure, subjects were exposed to eight digits auditorially within six suffix conditions. In the no-suffix control condition, lists were presented without a suffix at the end, In the zero card condition, a suffix was supplemented to the list and was presented visually on a card with the word “Z-E-R-O” printed out. In the 0-card condition, the suffix zero was presented visually on a card showing the single digit.

In the auditory condition, the suffix was spoken aloud but the experimenter’s lips were covered with a blank card, this created an acoustic input but no visual input. In the visual condition, the suffix was said silently giving the subjects no acoustic suffix information but conveying visual articulatory cues. In the auditory visual condition, the suffix was spoken aloud with the experimenter’s lips in full view, giving subjects both acoustic and visual articulatory suffix cues. According to the results, subjects were able to identify the suffixes zero on all suffix trials.According to the graph attached in the article representing the results, the serial position lies on the x-axis and the percent of errors lies on the y-axis. For all suffix conditions, serial positions 1-7 appear to be highly similar with significant difference in Position 8.

The graph reveals that the zero-card condition was higher in showing errors at position 6, and the only other grand significance occurred in position 8 where the auditory, visual, and auditory-visual conditions showed more errors than the remaining of the suffix conditions. In position 1, the visual suffix condition had a higher percentage of errors as opposed to the other conditions. Primary and recency effect are still in play as those that are in the beginning of the serial position curve tend to remember the beginning of the lists and those at the end of the lists tend to remember recent items on the list.On a more general and recent study, three experiments were conducted by Christopher Miles and Richard Jenkins, which looked at the correlation between immediate recall and the suffix using an olfactory stimulus. The odours provided in their study were selected based on their identification rates assessed in a pilot study. Oflactory neurons are among the smallest in the body and posses the slowest conduction velocities (Miles and Jenkins, 2000). Oflactory detection takes approximately 400msec (Herz & Engen, 1996), as opposed to visual detection, which takes approximately 45 msec.One of the experiments that took place by Miles and Jenkins was the assessment of which odours the participants can recall in strict order with three types of suffixes present: olfactory, auditory, and visual.

Each participant was tested individually; a bottle was sniffed which contained a particular odour. Secondly, each odour was re-presented in isolation by the experimenter holding the bottle under the participant’s nose. The participant was told to respond as quickly as possible with the appropriate label. The procedure continued until the participant was able to respond to twelve successive odours without error.

A regular experiment like so became the control of the group whereas in experiment two, the same procedure was the same except after each list a suffix of either visual, auditory or olfactory was presented.The olfactory suffix involved presenting a bottle containing ginger food flavoring in undiluted form. The auditory suffix involved presenting the odourless bottle accompanied by the spoken word “ginger”. The visual suffix involved showing the bottle in complete silence. During the study two graphs were presented, one showing the mean correct recall and a second one showing the normalized correct recall scores. Both graphs show a consistent pattern of primacy being evident regardless of suffix effect as oppose to recency is evident only for those lists, which followed a different visual or auditory suffix. What had a greater impact on recency were those lists that followed a suffix with the same modality, in this case an olfactory suffix. According to the results provided in the recent study, any suffix in relation with the lists will have an impact on recalling recent items.

In a third experiment, participants were exposed to both auditory and olfactory lists with each list type preceding an auditory, olfactory, or visual suffix. The predictions were in accordance to the previous results in experiment two, the olfactory suffix would impair recency for the olfactory lists and the auditory suffix should impair recency for the auditory lists. The results were as expected, for auditory, primacy is evident regardless of suffix type, whereas recency is reduced for having a similar suffix and evident for having a different suffix.From both experiments recency was impaired with a suffix relative to the list of items presented to the participant. In the first experiment, the zero-card presented with more errors and impairment in the recency effect because it was similar to the list of digits presented to the participants.

In the second set of experiments by Jenkins and Miles, different suffixes such as olfactory and auditory were tested and therefore came up with the results that the closer the relativity the suffix is to the set of odours being given or audio presented the greater amount of errors or the greater amount of impairment in recency.Recently in a cognitive psychology class, a number of students participated in an experiment, which looked at the effect on recall through a suffix. The suffix in which was related to the original set of numbers would have a greater effect in recall as opposed to those presented with a different item at the end of the list. The recall through a suffix cue goes back to the Jenkins and Miles experiment where they looked at recall of short-term memory through various suffixes.MethodParticipantsThere were a total of 44 participants, seventeen of them were male and twenty-seven of them were female. The age range was twenty-years old.

MaterialsIt was an in class experiment in a cognitive psychology course; therefore to participate in study one would have to enroll in the course. There was a total of nine numbers presented to the individuals with six trials. Each trial either had a suffix of “0” presented at the end of the list or an apple, which was also presented at the end of a list. The apple acted as the control of the experiment.ProcedureFirst the participant was shown a series of nine digits followed by a picture of an apple or the number “0” which was the suffix in the study. The suffix or the picture of the apple became the cue in the experiment to recall the numbers that were presented in strict order.

The procedure would proceed five more times. The numbers were never consistently in the same order and they were consistently nine numbers throughout all six trials.ResultsThe results supported the hypothesis in that those presented with the suffix “0” remembered less then those presented with the picture of the apple at the end of the set of numbers. In past research those items in relation to the suffix have impairment in recency effect such as the suffix “0” having an effect on recency because it was similar to the entire set of digits. The participant probably did not remember the recent numbers but did so remember primary numbers. The apple acted as the control therefore showed a level of both primacy and recency.DiscussionA possibility of an experiment was to conduct this auditory such as studies in the past have done. Although it probably will be the same outcome, it creates a more define study such as the study which looked at olfactory, visual and auditory suffixes.

The results from this experiment supported the hypothesis and supported the articles in those that were discussed in the literature review. The role of acoustic information in producing the suffix effect in the present two experiments [by Miles and Jenkins] provides a basis for a more general explanation of why different types of suffixes are effective in different situations (Miles and Jenkins, 2000).

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