Retrieval-induced forgetting and mental imagery

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					Memory & Cognition
2009, 37 (6), 819-828
doi:10.3758/MC.37.6.819




              Retrieval-induced forgetting and mental imagery
                                     Jo SaunderS, Marcelle FernandeS, and liv KoSneS
                                                  Swansea University, Swansea, Wales

                In the present article, we present four experiments in which we examined whether mental imagery can initiate
             retrieval-induced forgetting. Participants were presented with word pairs (Experiments 1, 2, and 3) or narratives
             (Experiment 4) and then engaged in selective mental imagery about half of the details from half of the catego-
             ries. The results indicated that mental imagery can produce the same pattern of impairment as retrieval practice
             (Experiment 1) and postevent questioning (Experiment 4). Additionally, mental imagery-invoked, retrieval-
             induced forgetting was found for category cued recall (Experiments 1, 3, and 4) and cued recall (Experiment 2);
             it was found to dissipate across a 24-h delay, but only when there was no pre-delay test (Experiment 3). Such
             retrieval-induced forgetting was also found for imagining from the first-person and third-person perspectives
             (Experiment 4). From these findings, we suggest that the underlying retrieval processes behind mental imagery
             can initiate retrieval-induced forgetting. The findings are discussed in terms of inhibitory processes.



   Retrieval has been found to be a potent method for                  This selective retrieval typically produces three types of
modifying memory that is typically associated with later               items: practiced items from practiced categories (i.e., fruit–
facilitated memory performance of that information both                apple), unpracticed items from practiced categories (i.e.,
at short and longer delays (Bjork & Bjork, 1992). Retrieval            fruit–banana), and items from unpracticed categories (i.e.,
can be found in numerous memory tasks, such as cued re-                sports). In the final task, the processing goal shifts from se-
call, postevent questioning, questionnaires, and surveys               lective to global retrieval, and participants’ memory is tested
collecting personal data. More recently, however, retrieval-           for all items from all categories, typically using either cued
based tasks have also been associated with more nega-                  or free recall. The retrieval practice paradigm typically pro-
tive memory-modifying properties. Such negative effects                duces two patterns of recall: (1) Memory performance for
typically occur as a consequence of retrieving other items             practiced items from practiced categories (i.e., Rp1 items)
from memory (see, e.g., Anderson, R. A. Bjork, & E. L.                 is facilitated, whereas that for unpracticed category items
Bjork, 1994). For example, during many everyday memory                 (i.e., Nrp items) is not; and (2) memory performance for un-
tasks, one may attempt to retrieve a desired memory from               practiced items from practiced categories (i.e., Rp2 items)
a larger category of related information, such as one’s cur-           is impaired, relative to that for Nrp items (i.e., retrieval-
rent telephone number from the category of all previously              induced forgetting). Such effects have also been found in
held numbers. So that we may complete this task quickly                impression formation (MacLeod & Macrae, 2001; Macrae
and efficiently, the related-but-unwanted memories may be              & MacLeod, 1999), eyewitness events (MacLeod, 2002;
pushed out of conscious awareness to prevent them from                 Shaw, Bjork, & Handal, 1995), autobiographical memory
competing for retrieval and disrupting the successful re-              (Barnier, Hung, & Conway, 2004), and second-language
trieval of the desired memory. Whereas we may then be able             acquisition (Levy, McVeigh, Marful, & Anderson, 2007),
to complete the current processing goal (i.e., the retrieval of        suggesting the applicability of retrieval-induced forgetting
the desired memory), the related-but-unwanted memories                 to a wide variety of information processing scenarios.
may remain unavailable for retrieval for some time after-                 It has been suggested that the possible mechanisms un-
ward; that is, if we then wish to retrieve one of those previ-         derlying retrieval-induced forgetting may be inhibitory
ously unwanted memories, we may find it difficult to do                in nature. The inhibitory account suggests that inhibitory
so. This failure to retrieve previously related-but-unwanted           processes may be initiated in response to high levels of re-
memories is known as retrieval-induced forgetting.                     trieval competition emanating from the Rp2 items. Spe-
   Both the facilitatory effects of retrieval and its negative         cifically, during retrieval practice, the presentation of a
consequences are typically examined using the retrieval                memorial prompt (e.g., fruit–b______) to retrieve the tar-
practice paradigm. In a retrieval practice task, partici-              get item (e.g., banana) leads to other related-but-unwanted
pants study categories of related information (e.g., fruit–            items competing for retrieval (e.g., blackberry, blueberry).
apple, fruit–banana; sport–golf, sport–hockey) and are then            In order to combat this unwanted interference, inhibitory
prompted to retrieve a subset of items from a subset of cat-           processes are brought to bear on the Rp2 items, suppress-
egories using guided retrieval practice (e.g., fruit–ap_____).         ing their levels of activation below baseline. On an im-


                                                   J. Saunders, j.saunders@swan.ac.uk


                                                                   819                      © 2009 The Psychonomic Society, Inc.
820      SaunderS, fernandeS, and KoSneS

mediate test, participants are able to remember the Rp1             Bäuml and Hartinger (2002) and that of Storm et al. suggest
items but not the Rp2 items (see Anderson, E. L. Bjork,             that retrieval from semantic memory can impair memory
& R. A. Bjork, 2000; Anderson et al., 1994; Anderson &              for competing items (see also Johnson & Anderson, 2004).
Spellman, 1995).                                                    Thus, if mental imagery requires the generation of semantic
    A number of findings are consistent with the inhibitory         information about to-be-visualized items, mental imagery
account. First, retrieval-induced forgetting has been found         is likely to lead to retrieval-induced forgetting. On the other
to be cue inde
				
DOCUMENT INFO
Description: In the present article, we present four experiments in which we examined whether mental imagery can initiate retrieval-induced forgetting. Participants were presented with word pairs (Experiments 1, 2, and 3) or narratives (Experiment 4) and then engaged in selective mental imagery about half of the details from half of the categories. The results indicated that mental imagery can produce the same pattern of impairment as retrieval practice (Experiment 1) and postevent questioning (Experiment 4). Additionally, mental imagery-invoked, retrieval-induced forgetting was found for category cued recall (Experiments 1, 3, and 4) and cued recall (Experiment 2); it was found to dissipate across a 24-h delay, but only when there was no pre-delay test (Experiment 3). Such retrieval-induced forgetting was also found for imagining from the first-person and third-person perspectives (Experiment 4). From these findings, we suggest that the underlying retrieval processes behind mental imagery can initiate retrieval-induced forgetting. The findings are discussed in terms of inhibitory processes. [PUBLICATION ABSTRACT]
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