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Lau, M. C., Goh, W. D., & Yap, M. J. (2018). An item-level analysis of lexical-semantic effects in free recall and recognition memory using the megastudy approach. The Quarterly Journal of Experimental Psychology, 71, 2207-2222.
Psycholinguists have developed a number of measures to tap different aspects of a word’s semantic representation. The
influence of these measures on lexical processing has collectively been described as semantic richness effects. However,
the effects of these word properties on memory are currently not well understood. This study examines the relative
contributions of lexical and semantic variables in free recall and recognition memory at the item-level, using a megastudy
approach. Hierarchical regression of recall and recognition performance on a number of lexical-semantic variables
showed task-general effects where the structural component, frequency, number of senses, and arousal accounted
for unique variance in both free recall and recognition memory. Task-specific effects included number of features,
imageability, and body–object interaction, which accounted for unique variance in recall, whereas age of acquisition,
familiarity, and extremity of valence accounted for unique variance in recognition. Forward selection regression analyses
generally converged on these findings. Hierarchical regression also revealed that lexical variables accounted for more
variance in recognition compared with recall, whereas semantic variables accounted for more unique variance above and
beyond lexical variables in recall compared with recognition. Implications of the findings are discussed.