Dissociative associative-memory deficit as a function of primacy and recency effects

  • Jonathan GuezEmail author
  • Rotem Saar-Ashkenazy
  • Chen Tiferet-Dweck
Original Article


Studies designed to explore memory for single items versus paired items (i.e., associative memory) in young adults show inconsistent results. Some studies report a decrease in associative recognition and others report mild-to-moderate or even a null effect. The studies often do not take into account stimuli serial position (SSP) when analyzing the locus of associative accuracy. Studies testing SSP often target memory for items, while studies targeting associative memory decline as a function of SSP are lacking. The objective of the current study is to test the separate and joint effect of SSP (experiments 1 + 2) and presentation duration (experiment 2) on memory recognition for items versus associations. We hypothesized that greater associative decline (compared to the expected decline in memory for items with similar serial location) will be observed for the material located at the end of a learning list than the material located at the beginning of a learning list. The results of the two experiments converged and confirmed our hypotheses; the greatest associative deficit was observed for associative material located at the end of the learning list (experiments 1 + 2) and for material presented for short durations (experiment 2). The interaction between SSP and presentation duration did not reach significance; however, a direct estimation of the cumulative deficit of SSP and presentation duration confirmed our hypothesis regarding greater associative deficit for recently presented items for short durations. These results highlight the importance of the joint and separate, effect of SSP and presentation duration to the study of associative memory decline.



This research was supported in part by the Achva Academic College grant to the first author. We are grateful to Eldana Perlman, Katya Rabinowitch, Ruslan Bernstein and Eldad Keha for their assistance in data collection and analysis.


The study was not funded.

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

Dr. Guez declares no conflict of interest. Dr. Saar-Ashkenazi declares no conflict of interest. Mrs. Tiferet-Dweck declares no conflict of interest.

Ethical approval

All procedures performed in studies involving human participants were in accordance with the ethical standards of the institutional and/or national research committee and with the 1964 Declaration of Helsinki and its later amendments or comparable ethical standards.

Informed consent

Informed consent was obtained from all individual participants included in the study.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Jonathan Guez
    • 1
    • 2
    Email author
  • Rotem Saar-Ashkenazy
    • 3
    • 4
  • Chen Tiferet-Dweck
    • 3
  1. 1.Department of PsychologyAchva Academic CollegeBeer-TuviaIsrael
  2. 2.Beer-Sheva Mental Health Center, Faculty of Health SciencesBen-Gurion University of the NegevBeer-ShevaIsrael
  3. 3.Department of Cognitive Neuroscience and Zlotowski Center for NeuroscienceBen-Gurion University of the NegevBeer-ShevaIsrael
  4. 4.Department of Psychology and the Faculty of Social-WorkAshkelon Academic CollegeAshkelonIsrael

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