A context-based model of recall and decisions
Existing models of memory posit separate processes for encoding and retrieval: the study of items is an endogenous process of item- and context-reinstatement, while retrieval occurs through an exogenous drift-diffusion procedure. We argue that the same iterative memory process underlying encoding also underlies recall and decision-making, and propose a new model of endogenous, context-based recall decisions. The simulated model explains documented empirical facts about accuracy and inter-response times (IRTs) in free-recall experiments. These facts include the distribution of IRTs, the increase in average IRTs over successive retrievals, and the negative relation between accuracy and IRTs. The model is isomorphic to a large class of drift-diffusion models, implying a memory-based microfoundation for these common decision models and their use in theories of free recall. We demonstrate the theory’s broad implications by applying it to more general decision problems.