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Psychology & Neuroscience

On-line version ISSN 1983-3288


EKUNI, Roberta; VAZ, Leonardo José  and  BUENO, Orlando Francisco Amodeo. Levels of processing: the evolution of a framework. Psychol. Neurosci. [online]. 2011, vol.4, n.3, pp.333-339. ISSN 1983-3288.

Although the levels of processing framework have evolved over its nearly 40 years of existence, the essence of the idea has not changed from the original. The original article published in 1972 suggests that in the encoding stage of a stimulus, there is a series of processing hierarchies ranging from the shallowest level (perceptual processing-the subject initially perceives the physical and sensory characteristics of the stimulus) to the deepest level (semantic processing-related to pattern recognition and extraction of meaning). The depth processing is associated with high levels of retention and long-term memory traces. After extensive research and criticism, the authors added several concepts that aided in a better understanding of levels of processing framework and the items that subjects can recall such as transfer-appropriate processing and robust encoding. However, there are still some gaps in this framework that call for new scientific investigations, ranging from experimental paradigms with lists of words with healthy or pathological conditions subject to neuroimaging studies to confirm, refute or improve the framework. The aim of this article is to review the publications (articles and book chapters) dating from the original article to the present day to better understand the mnemonic process in terms of levels of processing and to highlight some of its contributions.

Keywords : levels of processing; memory; cognition.

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