The effects of word co-occurrence on short-term memory: associative links in long-term memory affect short-term memory performance.J Exp Psychol Learn Mem Cogn 2000; 26(3):796-802JE
In immediate serial recall tasks, high-frequency words are recalled better than low-frequency words. This has been attributed to high-frequency words' being better represented and providing more effective support to a redintegration process at retrieval (C. Hulme et al., 1997). In studies of free recall, there is evidence that frequency of word co-occurrence, rather than word frequency per se, may explain the recall advantage enjoyed by high-frequency words (J. Deese, 1960). The authors present evidence that preexposing pairs of low-frequency words, so as to create associative links between them, has substantial beneficial effects on immediate serial recall performance. These benefits, which are not attributable to simple familiarization with the words per se, do not occur for high-frequency words. These findings indicate that associative links between items in long-term memory have important effects on short-term memory performance and suggest that the effects of word frequency in short-term memory tasks are related to differences in interitem associations in long-term memory.