An Analysis of Memory-Based Theories of Automaticity

David L. Strayer, Arthur F. Kramer

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Memory-based theories of automaticity predict that performance in a memory search task which is automatic will not require a representation of the memory set in working memory. The information contained in working memory was manipulated by inserting an interference task between the presentation of a memory set and a probe stimulus in a memory search task. The interference task prevented rehearsal, necessitating the retrieval of the memory set from long-term memory in variably mapped (VM) conditions. Performance in consistently mapped (CM) conditions provided strong support for memory-based theories of automaticity. With CM practice, both the effects of memory load and the effect of the interference task were eliminated. Furthermore, there was a temporal coupling in the reduction of these two effects with consistent practice. Monte Carlo simulations of memory-based automaticity predict such a temporal coupling. Automaticity is viewed as a continuum reflecting the relative contribution of the direct memory access of past solutions from long-term memory on performance.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)291-304
Number of pages14
JournalJournal of Experimental Psychology: Learning, Memory, and Cognition
Issue number2
StatePublished - Mar 1990

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Language and Linguistics
  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
  • Linguistics and Language


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