Dr. Alessandra da S. Souza de Carvalho

Oberassistentin, Fachrichtung Allgemeine Psychologie (Kognition)



Dr. Alessandra Souza
Universität Zürich
Psychologisches Institut
Allgemeine Psychologie (Kognition)
Binzmühlestrasse 14/22
CH-8050 Zürich
+41 44 63 57488
BIN 4.B.04
nach Vereinbarung

My research focuses on understanding the factors limiting our ability to process the information relevant to perform a given task. The cognitive system underpinning this ability is known as working memory. In my research, I use behavioral tasks and computational modeling to examine: (1) how we create, maintain, and manipulate representations in working memory; (2) why we forget information and whether we can take active measures to prevent the loss of information (e.g., by rehearsing it); (3) how attention can be used to prioritize the selection and use of information;  and (4) the impact of lifelong experiences (such as bilingualism) and of healthy aging to the plasticity and functioning of the cognitive system.

Research interests

  • working memory and working memory capacity
  • declarative and procedural working memory
  • attention to working memory contents (i.e., "retro-cue benefit")
  • rehearsal and refreshing
  • multi-tasking (e.g., task-switching)
  • executive functions
  • aging

Selected publications

PDFs of the articles can be found on the publications page

2017 & in-press

  • Souza, A. S., & Oberauer, K. (in press). Time to process information in working memory improves episodic memory. Journal of Memory and Language.
    - data available at the OSF: https://osf.io/ctgr3/
  • Souza, A. S., & Skóra, Z. (2017). The interplay of language and visual perception in working memory. Cognition, 166, 277-297. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.cognition.2017.05.038
    - pdf also available here: https://authors.elsevier.com/a/1V9wY2Hx2XnLg
    - data available at the OSF: https://osf.io/tf93q/
  • Souza, A. S., & Oberauer, K. (in press). The contributions of visual and central attention to visual working memory. Attention, Perception, & Psychophysics.  Doi: 10.3758/s13414-017-1357-y
    data available at the OSF: https://osf.io/arve5/
  • Shepherdson, P., Oberauer, K., & Souza, A. S. (2017). Working memory load and the retro-cue effect: A diffusion model account. Journal of Experimental Psychology. Human Perception and Performance. doi:10.1037/xhp0000448
  • *Gade, M., *Souza, A. S., Druey, M. D., & Oberauer, K. (2017). Analogous selection processes in declarative and procedural working memory: N-2 list-repetition and task-repetition costs. Memory & Cognition, 1–14.


  • Bermudez, T., & Souza, A. S. (2016).Can emotional content reduce the age gap in visual working memory? Evidence from two tasks. Cognition & Emotion.
    - Data available at the OSF:  https://osf.io/4j83a/
  • Souza, A.S. (2016). No age deficits in the ability to use attention to improve visual working memory. Psychology & Aging, 31, 456-470.
    - Data available at the Open Science Framework (OSF): https://osf.io/jhgze/
  • Souza, A.S., & Oberauer, K. (2016). In search of the focus of attention in working memory: 13 years of the retro-cue effect. Attention, Perception, & Psychophysics, 78, 1839-1860.
  • Souza, A. S., Rerko, L., & Oberauer, K. (2016). Getting more from visual working memory: Retro-cues enhance retrieval and protect from test interference. Journal of Experimental Psychology: Human Perception and Performance, 42, 890-910.
    - Data available at the OSF: https://osf.io/2576x/
  • von Bastian, C. C., Souza, A. S., & Gade, M. (2016). No evidence for bilingual cognitive advantages: A test of four hypotheses. Journal of Experimental Psychology: General, 145, 246-258. http://dx.doi.org/10.1037/xge0000120
    - Data available at the OSF: https://osf.io/d89xh/


  • Souza, A. S., Rerko, L., & Oberauer, K. (2015). Refreshing memory traces: Thinking of an item improves retrieval from visual working memory. Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences. 1339, 20-31. doi: 10.1111/nyas.12603
  • Souza, A. S., & K. Oberauer (2015). Time-based forgetting in visual working memory reflects temporal distinctiveness, not decay. Psychological Bulletin & Review, 22, 156-162.
  • Gade, M., Druey, M. D., Souza, A. S., & Oberauer, K. (2014). Interference between declarative and procedural representations in working memory. Journal of Memory and Language, 76, 174-194.
  • Souza, A. S., Rerko, L., Lin, S-H., & Oberauer, K. (2014). Focused attention improves working memory: Implications for flexible-resource and discrete-capacity models. Attention, Perception & Psychophysics, 76, 2080-2102. doi: 10.3758/s13414-014-0687-2
  • Souza, A. S., Rerko, L., & Oberauer, K. (2014). Unloading and reloading working memory: Attending to one item frees capacity. Journal of Experimental Psychology: Human Perception and Performance, 40, 1237-1256. http://dx.doi.org/10.1037/a0036331
  • Rerko, L., Souza, A. S., & Oberauer (2014). Retro-cue benefits in working memory without sustained focal attention. Memory & Cognition, 42, 712-728. doi: 10.3758/s13421-013-0392-8


  • Oberauer, K., Souza, A. S., Druey, M. D., & Gade, M. (2013). Analogous mechanisms of selection and updating in declarative and procedural working memory: Experiments and a computational model. Cognitive Psychology, 66, 157-211. doi: 10.1016/j.cogpsych.2012.11.001
  • Souza, A. S., Oberauer, K., Gade, M., & Druey, M. D. (2012). Processing of representations in declarative and procedural working memory. The Quarterly Journal of Experimental Psychology, 65, 1006–1033. doi:10.1080/17470218.2011.640403
  • Souza, A. S., Pontes, T. N., & Abreu-Rodrigues, J. (2012). Varied but not necessarily random: Human performance under variability contingencies is affected by instructions. Learning & Behavior, 40, 367-379. doi: 10.3758/s13420-011-0058-y
  • Pontes, T.N.R., Abreu-Rodrigues, J., & Souza, A. S. (2012). Choice between contingencies of variation: Effects of the requirement of variation upon preference. Behavioral Processes, 91, 214-222. doi: 0.1016/j.beproc.2012.08.004
  • Souza, A. S., & Abreu-Rodrigues, J. (2012). Extinção e estímulos independentes da resposta: Efeitos de relações de não-continência sobre o comportamento. [Extinction and response-independent stimuli: Effects of non-contingent relations on behavior]. Psicologia: Reflexão e Crítica, 25, 400-409.

Earlier than 2011

  • Souza, A. S., & Abreu-Rodrigues, J. (2010). Discriminative proprieties of vary and repeat contingencies. Behavioural Processes, 85, 116-125. doi:10.3758/LB.38.4.426
  • Souza, A. S., Abreu-Rodrigues, J., & Baumann, A. A. (2010). History effects upon induced and operant variability. Learning & Behavior, 38, 426-437. doi:10.3758/LB.38.4.426
  • Baumann, A. A., Abreu-Rodrigues, J., & Souza, A. S. (2009). Rules and self-rules: Effects of variation upon behavioral sensitivity to change. The Psychological Record, 59, 641–670.
  • Souza, A. S., & Abreu-Rodrigues, J. (2007). Autoconhecimento: Algumas contribuições da pesquisa básica. [Self-knowledge: Some contributions from Basic Research]. Psicologia em Estudo, 12, 121-130.
  • Abreu-Rodrigues, J., Souza, A. S., & Moreira, J. M. (2007). Repetir ou Variar? Efeitos do critério de variação sobre a escolha. [Repeat or Vary? Effects from variation criterion upon choice]. Ciência: Comportamento e Cognição, 1, 71-84.
  • Oliveira, M. C., Pinto, R. G., & Souza, A. S. (2003). Perspectivas de futuro entre adolescentes: Universidade, trabalho e relacionamentos afetivos na transição para a vida adulta. [Future perspectives among teenagers: University, work, and relationships in the transition to adulthood]. Temas em Psicologia da SBP, 11, 16-27.

Papers submitted or under revision

  • Souza, A. S., & Oberauer, K. (2016). Does articulatory rehearsal help immediate serial recall? Manuscript Submitted for Publication.
  • Thalmann, M., Souza, A. S., & Oberauer, K. (2016). How does chunking help working memory? Manuscript under Revision.
  • Souza, A., Thalmann, M., & Oberauer, K. (2017). The precision of selection into the focus of attention in working memory. Manuscript submitted for Publication.

*Shared first authorship.