Is Source Information Automatically Available in Working Memory?

Hui Chen, Richard A. Carlson, Brad Wyble

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

10 Scopus citations


We often remember information without its source (e.g., word or picture format). This phenomenon has been studied extensively in long-term memory but rarely in the context of short-term working memory (WM), which leaves open the question of whether source amnesia can result from a lack of memory encoding rather than forgetting. This study provided a series of striking and novel demonstrations showing participants’ inability to report the source of a color representation immediately after that color was used in a task and stored in memory. These counterintuitive findings occurred when participants repeatedly judged the congruency between two color representations from one single object (i.e., color and identity of a color word) or two distinct objects (i.e., color of a square and identity of a color word) and then were unexpectedly asked to report the source of one color representation. These discoveries suggest that source information is often not stored in WM.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)645-655
Number of pages11
JournalPsychological Science
Issue number4
StatePublished - Apr 1 2018

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • General Psychology


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