Computational Models of Memory Search

Annu Rev Psychol. 2020 Jan 4;71:107-138. doi: 10.1146/annurev-psych-010418-103358. Epub 2019 Sep 30.


The capacity to search memory for events learned in a particular context stands as one of the most remarkable feats of the human brain. How is memory search accomplished? First, I review the central ideas investigated by theorists developing models of memory. Then, I review select benchmark findings concerning memory search and analyze two influential computational approaches to modeling memory search: dual-store theory and retrieved context theory. Finally, I discuss the key theoretical ideas that have emerged from these modeling studies and the open questions that need to be answered by future research.

Keywords: free recall; memory models; memory search; neural networks; retrieved context theory; serial recall; short-term memory.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Humans
  • Memory*
  • Models, Theoretical*
  • Psychological Theory*