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The form of the forgetting curve and the fate of memories


Averell, L and Heathcote, A, The form of the forgetting curve and the fate of memories, Journal of Mathematical Psychology, 55 pp. 25-35. ISSN 0022-2496 (2011) [Refereed Article]

Copyright Statement

2010 Elsevier Inc.

DOI: doi:10.1016/


Psychologists have debated the form of the forgetting curve for over a century. We focus on resolving three problems that have blocked a clear answer on this issue. First, we analyzed data from a longitudinal experiment measuring cued recall and stem completion from 1 min to 28 days after study, with more observations per interval per participant than in previous studies. Second, we analyzed the data using hierarchical models, avoiding distortions due to averaging over participants. Third, we implemented the models in a Bayesian framework, enabling our analysis to account for the ability of candidate forgetting functions to imitate each other. An exponential function provided the best fit to individual participant data collected under both explicit and implicit retrieval instructions, but Bayesian model selection favored a power function. All analysis supported above chance asymptotic retention, suggesting that, despite quite brief study, storage of some memories was effectively permanent.

Item Details

Item Type:Refereed Article
Research Division:Psychology
Research Group:Cognitive and computational psychology
Research Field:Decision making
Objective Division:Expanding Knowledge
Objective Group:Expanding knowledge
Objective Field:Expanding knowledge in psychology
UTAS Author:Heathcote, A (Professor Andrew Heathcote)
ID Code:98898
Year Published:2011
Web of Science® Times Cited:110
Deposited By:Medicine
Deposited On:2015-03-06
Last Modified:2017-11-06

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