Remembering to Forget: The Amnesic Effect of Daydreaming
ABSTRACT Daydreaming mentally transports people to another place or time. Many daydreams are similar in content to the thoughts that people generate when they intentionally try to forget. Thus, thoughts like those generated during daydreaming can cause forgetting of previously encoded events. We conducted two experiments to test the hypothesis that daydreams that are more different from the current moment (e.g., in distance, time, or circumstance) will result in more forgetting than daydreams that are less different from the current moment, because they result in a greater contextual shift. Daydreaming was simulated in the laboratory via instructions to engage in a diversionary thought. Participants learned a list of words, were asked to think about autobiographical memories, and then learned a second list of words. They tended to forget more words from the first list when they thought about their parents' home than when they thought about their current home (Experiment 1). They also tended to forget more when they thought about an international vacation than when they thought about a domestic vacation (Experiment 2). These results support a context-change account of the amnesic effects of daydreaming.
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- "One such characteristic is the degree to which the experience disrupts ongoing activities. While mind-wandering merely taps attentional resources and reduces performance on other tasks (Baird et al., 2013; Delaney, Sahakyan, Kelley, & Zimmerman, 2010; Takarangi et al., 2014), a flashback can be so disabling that pursuing another activity in parallel becomes impossible. Similarly, the intensity of negative affect is low in mind-wandering, but high to extreme in a flashback. "
ABSTRACT: In their paper, Takarangi, Strange, and Lindsay (2014) showed in two experiments that participants who had witnessed a shocking film frequently “mind-wandered without awareness” about the content of the film. More importantly, they equated this effect with the occurrence of traumatic intrusions. In this commentary, we argue that the authors adhered to conceptually ambiguous terms, and thereby unintentionally contribute to an already existing conceptual blur in the trauma-memory field. We postulate that clear definitions are urgently needed for phenomena such as intrusions, flashbacks, and mind-wandering, when using them in the context of trauma memory. Furthermore, our proposal is that these phenomena can fall under a spectrum of different involuntary memory instances. We propose that by adopting stricter definitions and viewing them as separate, but interrelated phenomena, different lines of trauma-memory research can be reconciled, which would considerably advance the field.Consciousness and Cognition 05/2015; 33. DOI:10.1016/j.concog.2014.11.012 · 2.31 Impact Factor
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ABSTRACT: Costs and benefits of directed forgetting are observed when a between-list instruction to forget List 1 impairs List 1 recall while enhancing List 2 recall. These effects are often ascribed to intentional inhibition of List 1. Contrary to this inhibition account, we found that a forget instruction did not produce costs unless an explicit instruction to concentrate on List 2 was used (Experiment 1). Alternatively, costs may be ascribed to a shift in mental context between encoding and retrieval. Consistent with this mental context-change account, an unexpected task (wiping the computer screen and one's hands) produced costs comparable to a forget instruction, as did as a brief chat between lists (Experiment 2). A number-search task between lists produced neither costs nor benefits (Experiment 3), suggesting that mere distraction is insufficient for inducing mental context change. Our findings support the claim that mental context change underlies both intentional and unintentional forgetting.Memory 10/2010; 18(7):763-73. DOI:10.1080/09658211.2010.510475 · 2.09 Impact Factor
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ABSTRACT: In multiple-list learning, retrieval during learning has been suggested to improve recall of the single lists by enhancing list discrimination and, at test, reducing interference. Using electrophysiological, oscillatory measures of brain activity, we examined to what extent retrieval during learning facilitates list encoding. Subjects studied 5 lists of items in anticipation of a final cumulative recall test and did either a retrieval or a no-retrieval task between study of the lists. Retrieval was from episodic memory (recall of the previous list), semantic memory (generation of exemplars from an unrelated category), or short-term memory (2-back task). Behaviorally, all 3 forms of retrieval enhanced recall of both previously and subsequently studied lists. Physiologically, the results showed an increase of alpha power (8-14 Hz) from List 1 to List 5 encoding when no retrieval activities were interpolated but no such increase when any of the 3 retrieval activities occurred. Brain-behavior correlations showed that alpha-power dynamics from List 1 to List 5 encoding predicted subsequent recall performance. The results suggest that, without intermittent retrieval, encoding becomes ineffective across lists. In contrast, with intermittent retrieval, there is a reset of the encoding process for each single list that makes encoding of later lists as effective as encoding of early lists.Journal of Experimental Psychology Learning Memory and Cognition 03/2011; 37(2):287-97. DOI:10.1037/a0021801 · 3.10 Impact Factor