Forgetting: Trace Erosion or Retrieval Failure?

Science  26 Jun 1970:
Vol. 168, Issue 3939, pp. 1601-1603
DOI: 10.1126/science.168.3939.1601


A series of lists of random words was presented. Following each list, the subject attempted to recall the words of the list prior to the list just presented. Recall probability for a given word depended on the length of the list in which it was embedded, not on the length of the list intervening between presentation and test. These results indicate that forgetting is a failure in the memory search during retrieval rather than a degradation of the memory trace occurring between presentation and test.