Dr Tom Mercer

Job Title Lecturer
Research Group Cognition in Context
Tel 01902 321368
Email t.mercer2@wlv.ac.uk
Room No MH010








Research Interests 

Sensory memory, attention, short-term and non-verbal memory, forgetting mechanisms, auditory perception and cognition.


After completing my Bachelor’s degree in psychology at the University of Leeds (2004-2007), I began studying for a PhD in cognitive psychology under the supervision of Dr Denis McKeown and Dr Richard Wilkie. My doctoral research investigated short-term memory and forgetting in nonverbal auditory memory and I defended my thesis in December 2010. I began working at the University of Wolverhampton in January 2011.

I teach widely on the psychology undergraduate degrees and lecture on various modules including Research Methods, Cognitive Psychology and Development of Personality and Individual Differences. I am a member of the Cognition and Individual Differences research group and continue to conduct experimental investigations into the area of memory and forgetting. I am particularly interested in understanding how short-term representations are encoded, maintained and lost.

Current Research Projects

Time and forgetting in short-term memory. On-going research is exploring how the passage of time affects the accuracy, strength and lifetime of short-term memory. The role of trace decay, temporal distinctiveness and retroactive interference are being tested using different methodologies. This work is primarily investigating nonverbal visual memory, partly in collaboration with colleagues at the University of Leeds.

Everyday forgetting. Following on from research conducted as part of the University of Wolverhampton’s Early Researcher Award Scheme (2012-13), this exploratory project aims to examine the factors underlying forgetting of everyday events. Of particular interest are techniques that reduce forgetting (e.g. the role of wakeful rest) and individual differences (e.g. mind wandering and daydreaming)


Mercer, T. (in press). Wakeful rest alleviates interference-based forgetting. Memory.

Mercer, T., & McKeown, D. (2013). Decay uncovered in nonverbal short-term memory. Psychonomic Bulletin & Review. Advance online publication. doi:10.3758/s13423-013-0472-6

McKeown, D., & Mercer, T. (2012). Short-term forgetting without interference. Journal of Experimental Psychology: Learning, Memory, and Cognition, 38, 1057-1068.

McKeown, D., Mills, R., & Mercer, T. (2011). Comparison of complex sounds across extended retention intervals survives reading aloud. Perception, 40, 1193-1205.

Mercer, T., & McKeown, D. (2010). Updating and feature overwriting in short-term memory for timbre. Attention, Perception, & Psychophysics, 72, 2289-2303.

Mercer, T., & McKeown, D. (2010) Interference in short-term auditory memory. Quarterly Journal of Experimental Psychology, 63, 1256-1265.

Conferences and research presentations

Mercer, T. (2013). Preserving short-term memories over the passage of time. Paper to be presented at the University of Wolverhampton Psychology Research Conference, December 2013.

Mercer, T. (2013). Why do we forget information over short-periods of time? Paper presented at the University of Wolverhampton Early Researcher Award Scheme Conference, University of Wolverhampton, June 2013.

Mercer, T. (2012). Does wakeful resting protect recent memories from retroactive interference? Paper presented at the University of Wolverhampton Psychology Research Conference, December 2012.

Mercer, T., & McKeown, D. (2012). Time and forgetting in non-verbal memory. Paper presented at the University of Wolverhampton Open Research Seminar Series, March 2012.

McKeown, D., & Mercer, T. (2011). Auditory spectral memories persist in the absence of verbal rehearsal. Paper presented at the BPS Cognitive Psychology Section Annual Conference, Keele University, September 2011. 

Mercer, T., & McKeown, D. (2010). Novelty-based interference in auditory short-term memory. Proceedings of the Experimental Psychology Society 2010. Quarterly Journal of Experimental Psychology, 63, 2452-2480. 

Mercer, T., & McKeown, D. (2009). Tracking auditory memories over thirty-two seconds. Paper presented at the BPS Cognitive Psychology Section Annual Conference, University of Hertfordshire, September 2009.

Mercer, T., & McKeown, D. (2008). Timbre and the effects of pre-trial cues. Proceedings of the Experimental Psychology Society 2008. Quarterly Journal of Experimental Psychology, 61, 1897-1907.    

Mercer, T. (2008). Interference effects and the role of grouping in timbre memories. Paper presented at the Postgraduate Conference, Institute of Psychological Sciences, University of Leeds, September 2008.