The demonstration of short-term consolidation

Cogn Psychol. 1998 Jul;36(2):138-202. doi: 10.1006/cogp.1998.0684.


In a dual-task paradigm, a visual display (T1) containing characters (letters or symbols) was presented first, followed by an auditory signal (T2) at various stimulus-onset asynchronies (SOAs). A speeded response to T2 was required. When the information in T1 had to be recalled later, response times to T2 (RT2) were elevated at short SOAs and decreased as SOA was increased. The effects on RT2 were larger when there were more items to be remembered. We interpreted the results as evidence that encoding information into short-term memory (STM) involves a distinct process, which we call short-term consolidation (STC). The results suggested that STC has limited capacity and that it requires central processing mechanisms. Additional evidence suggested that no memory for T1 was formed in STM when STC was not engaged.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Analysis of Variance
  • Auditory Perception / physiology
  • Computer Simulation
  • Humans
  • Memory, Short-Term / physiology*
  • Mental Recall / physiology
  • Reaction Time
  • Retention, Psychology / physiology*
  • Statistics as Topic
  • Visual Perception / physiology