The ties that bind what is known to the recall of what is new

Psychon Bull Rev. 2000 Dec;7(4):604-17. doi: 10.3758/bf03212998.


Cued recall success varies with what people know and with what they do during an episode. This paper focuses on prior knowledge and disentangles the relative effects of 10 features of words and their relationships on cued recall. Results are reported for correlational and multiple regression analyses of data obtained from free association norms and from 29 experiments. The 10 features were only weakly correlated with each other in the norms and, with notable exceptions, in the experiments. The regression analysis indicated that forward cue-to-target strength explained the most variance, followed by backward target-to-cue strength. Target connectivity and set size explained the next most variance, along with mediated cue-to-target strength. Finally, frequency, concreteness, shared associate strength, and cue set size also contributed significantly to recall. Taken together, indices of prior word knowledge explain 49% of the recall variance. Theoretically driven equations that use free association to predict cued recall were also evaluated. Each equation was designed to condense multiple indices of word interconnectivity into a single predictor.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Algorithms
  • Association Learning*
  • Cues*
  • Humans
  • Mental Recall*
  • Models, Psychological
  • Regression Analysis