Two experiments studied recall of objects and their locations in an intentional-incidental learning paradigm. When studying spatial information, the usual incidental condition is not truly incidental, because subjects often deliberately use locations to help organize objects for recall. Therefore, a true incidental task was devised in which neither objects nor locations were expected to be recalled and for which explicit encoding of locations was irrelevant. There was only a small loss in recall of objects or their locations in a true incidental condition. It was concluded that a great deal of location information is automatically coded into long-term memory storage in the sense that active processing is not required. The data were contrasted with incidental processing of other attributes, such as color. Although adults performed better than children, there were no age-related interactions, indicating similarity of functioning at all ages studied.
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