Without any feedback to distinguish correct recall from intrusions, spontaneous retrieval (without further presentation after initial recall of each item) of a list of 20 animals increased rapidly during free recall verbal learning. Intrusions, elicited by requiring forced recall of 20 items on each trial, decreased as correct recall increased. List items were recalled with great consistency once they were spontaneously retrieved; total recall was limited more by the initial difficulty of retrieving an item from long-term storage for the first time. Since these results show that subjects know which items belong to the list, they indicated that spontaneous retrieval of items from the same category does show retention and retrieval, rather than guessing. Forced recall increases retrieval even more than extended recall does, not through guessing but by encouraging further search in long-term storage for recovery of more items, which are correctly discriminated when found.
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