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Abstract

Forgetting occurs when people fail to recover information that has been experienced previously. Most view forgetting as a nuisance, but the process is quite adaptive. This chapter provides a general tutorial on the psychology of forgetting. We focus on its empirical characteristics and proposed theoretical underpinnings, as revealed through studies with healthy human participants. We begin with a discussion of forgetting’s adaptive value, followed by an examination of its functional and mathematical characteristics. Next, we discuss possible causal mechanisms in some detail: Why do we forget? Finally, we reconsider the meaning of forgetting and its proper role in memory theory.

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... Forgetting is the opposite of recall (Cubelli, 2010). It is a process of adaptation (Nairne and Pandeirada, 2008) and is therefore viewed by psychological science as a precondition for successful learning and recall (MacLeod, 1998). Although human memory is characterized by unlimited storage capacity of memory items stored in long-term memory (Bjork and Bjork, 1992;Kirschner, 2002;Storm, 2011), adaptability is necessary, as the past never repeats itself, at least not in exactly the same way. ...
... Therefore, it would not be of great value to humans to store exact copies of earlier experiences. Memories are valuable because the past supports humans in the present to make plans for the future (Nairne and Pandeirada, 2008;Klein et al., 2010). ...
... In order to decide between different behavioral options, humans do not need to remember all details of an experience. Given the assumption that memory items serve the purpose of dealing with the present and anticipating the future, the advantage of forgetting becomes visible: a less detailed and less perfect memory of a past experience improves our capability to draw conclusions (Schooler and Hertwig, 2005) and to detect causal relationships (Kareev, 2000;Nairne and Pandeirada, 2008). In this respect, human memory proves to be sensitive to the probability that a past incident will be relevant in the future. ...
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To cope with the already large, and ever increasing, amount of information stored in organizational memory, "forgetting," as an important human memory process, might be transferred to the organizational context. Especially in intentionally planned change processes (e.g., change management), forgetting is an important precondition to impede the recall of obsolete routines and adapt to new strategic objectives accompanied by new organizational routines. We first comprehensively review the literature on the need for organizational forgetting and particularly on accidental vs. intentional forgetting. We discuss the current state of the art of theory and empirical evidence on forgetting from cognitive psychology in order to infer mechanisms applicable to the organizational context. In this respect, we emphasize retrieval theories and the relevance of retrieval cues important for forgetting. Subsequently, we transfer the empirical evidence that the elimination of retrieval cues leads to faster forgetting to the forgetting of organizational routines, as routines are part of organizational memory. We then propose a classification of cues (context, sensory, business process-related cues) that are relevant in the forgetting of routines, and discuss a meta-cue called the "situational strength" cue, which is relevant if cues of an old and a new routine are present simultaneously. Based on the classification as business process-related cues (information, team, task, object cues), we propose mechanisms to accelerate forgetting by eliminating specific cues based on the empirical and theoretical state of the art. We conclude that in intentional organizational change processes, the elimination of cues to accelerate forgetting should be used in change management practices.
... For example, most people may be motivated to selectively forget negative experiences in order to maintain an optimistic outlook, but an individual who aims to self-improve may want to remember such experiences in order to understand and learn from them. Second, forgetting must align with environmental demands (see Hirst & Yamashiro, 2017;Nairne & Pandeirada, 2008;Schooler & Hertwig, 2005). For example, it may be beneficial to selectively forget negative experiences in a safe environment, but it can be helpful to remember such experiences in a hostile environment, because doing so can help predict and avoid future dangers. ...
Article
Forgetting is typically viewed as counterproductive in everyday life. However, it may mainly be harmful when it is complete, that is, all-encompassing and permanent, and not when it is graded, that is, partial and fluctuating. I propose that forgetting is in fact mostly graded, and that this is an essential reason that it is often helpful. I delineate three ways in which forgetting may be graded. First, it may occur with respect to one, but not another, part of a memory. Second, it may occur in one context, but not in another. Third, forgetting may be present at one point in time, but not at another. Also, I propose that different levels of forgetting are possible, based on whether an engram or a context is unavailable, silent, restricted, latent, or potent. Overall, I hypothesize that forgetting is often helpful because it can be flexible and tailored to the circumstances.
... In this study, we built on retrieval and cue-dependent forgetting theories, as they constitute a suitable theoretical basis to manage forgetting on the organizational, team, and individual level. Our operationalization of intentional forgetting is based on retrieval theories, which explain forgetting in terms of cue overload, cue availability, consolidation, and repression, and propose that recall is triggered by cues (Gronlund & Kimball, 2013;Nairne & Pandeirada, 2008;Roediger et al., 2010). Our work revolves around the assumption that forgetting results from changing cue conditions. ...
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Industry 4.0, based on increasingly progressive digitalization, is a global phenomenon that affects every part of our work. The Internet of Things (IoT) is pushing the process of automation, culminating in the total autonomy of cyber-physical systems. This process is accompanied by a massive amount of data, information, and new dimensions of flexibility. As the amount of available data increases, their specific timeliness decreases. Mastering Industry 4.0 requires humans to master the new dimensions of information and to adapt to relevant ongoing changes. Intentional forgetting can make a difference in this context, as it discards nonprevailing information and actions in favor of prevailing ones. Intentional forgetting is the basis of any adaptation to change, as it ensures that nonprevailing memory items are not retrieved while prevailing ones are retained. This study presents a novel experimental approach that was introduced in a learning factory (the Research and Application Center Industry 4.0) to investigate intentional forgetting as it applies to production routines. In the first experiment (N = 18), in which the participants collectively performed 3046 routine related actions (t1 = 1402, t2 = 1644), the results showed that highly proceduralized actions were more difficult to forget than actions that were less well-learned. Additionally, we found that the quality of cues that trigger the execution of routine actions had no effect on the extent of intentional forgetting.
... These null results may have been due to low statistical power. Whereas the effects of delay on identification are not perfectly consistent across studies, they generally suggest poorer identification performance with an increase in delay, confirming over a century of memory research using other procedures (e.g., Nairne, 2008). Importantly, though, studies that have examined the confidenceaccuracy relationship with varying delays show that it holds up well across delays as assessed by CAC plots. ...
Article
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A significant problem in eyewitness identification occurs when witnesses view a suspect in one venue such as a mugshot and then later in a lineup where the suspect is the only previously viewed person. Prior research has documented that the witness may select the suspect from the lineup due either to misplaced familiarity from seeing the mugshot or to their prior commitment from identifying the suspect from the mugshot. Two experiments attempted to minimize these biases by using repeated identical lineups, such that both targets and fillers were repeated, to determine if such a procedure could be useful. Across two experiments, we also varied the delay between seeing the event and the first lineup, as well as the delay between lineups. Despite the use of identical lineups, we continued to observe the effects of commitment and misplaced familiarity, so our procedure did not remove these problems. In addition, we also found that both repeated lineups and increasing delays can influence people’s tendency to choose and their willingness to maintain their decisions, regardless of accuracy. Most importantly, however, despite the negative effects of repeated lineups and the relatively long delays used in our experiments, we obtained strong relations between confidence and accuracy when using confidence-accuracy characteristic plots. High confidence responses were associated with high accuracy.
... Concerning the third assumption, retrieval theories are used to actively support forgetting. Retrieval theories explain forgetting in terms of cue overload, cue availability, consolidation, and repression (Gronlund & Kimball, 2013;Nairne & Pandeirada, 2008;Roediger et al., 2010). We argue that the elimination of retrieval cues will enable the weakening of memory items and, therefore, forgetting, insofar as the memory items are not activated because the related situational, sensory or routine-related cues are not present. ...
Conference Paper
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Structured Abstract Purpose-The purpose of the paper is to present research designs that are suitable for investigating organisational forgetting. The overall and long-term objective is to encourage researchers to use non-experimental, quasi-experimental and experimental designs as well as computer simulations to test the idea of the benefits of forgetting for adaptation and change with high construct, internal and external validity. Design/methodology/approach-We review the state of the art in management and organisational research and show options in how to use non-experimental, quasi-experimental and experimental designs for testing causes and effects of organisational forgetting by giving concrete examples. We emphasise experimental designs because they are declared the gold standard in management research. In that respect, we introduce the distinction between special-purpose and non-special-purpose settings. In particular, "learning factories" as a prototype of a special-purpose setting will be described, in which internal and external validity can be increased simultaneously. Originality/value-Learning factories have emerged in the last 5 years to test new ways of manufacturing, for example, cyber-physical production systems and human-robot interaction "live", and to mirror a real production setting with a high physical and psychological fidelity. We suggest using learning factories as special-purpose settings to observe and investigate processes of organisational forgetting, e.g. for investigating the impact of forgetting routines, as routines are declared an important storage bin as part of the organisational memory. Practical implications-We show how a learning factory can be used as an experimental "theatre" for investigating the impact of eliminating retrieval cues that impede forgetting of a routine that has become invalid and been replaced by a new routine in order to adapt to a changing organisational environment. This example can be used as a model by which to design experimental procedures to put organisational forgetting to an empirical test on a group level, and implies the advantage of making temporal aspects of forgetting visible.
... In the cognitive domain, adaptations include elements of sensory processing, such as a system to detect color or depth in vision, and basic learning and memory processes. Most memory researchers would probably agree that characteristic features of remembering, such as negatively-accelerated forgetting or the reconstructive nature of memory, are part of an inherited mnemonic architecture as well (Anderson & Schooler, 1991;Nairne & Pandeirada, 2008a). ...
Article
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A few seconds of survival processing, during which people assess the relevance of information to a survival situation, produces particularly good retention. One interpretation of this benefit is that our memory systems are optimized to process and retain fitness-relevant information. Such a “tuning” may exist, in part, because our memory systems were shaped by natural selection, using a fitness-based criterion. However, recent research suggests that traditional mnemonic processes, such as elaborative processing, may play an important role in producing the empirical benefit. Boundary conditions have been demonstrated as well, leading some to dismiss evolutionary interpretations of the phenomenon. In this article, we discuss the current state of the evolutionary account and provide a general framework for evaluating evolutionary and purportedly nonevolutionary interpretations of mnemonic phenomena. We suggest that survival processing effects are best viewed within the context of a general survival optimization system, designed by nature to help organisms deal with survival challenges. An important component of survival optimization is the ability to simulate activities that help to prevent or escape from future threats which, in turn, depends in an important way on accurate retrospective remembering of survival-relevant information.
Article
Proactive interference - the disruptive effect of old memories on new learning - is a long-established forgetting mechanism, yet there are doubts about its impact on visual working memory and uncertainty about the kinds of information that cause proactive interference. The present study aimed to assess these issues in three experiments using a modified recent probes task. Participants encoded four target images on each trial and determined whether a probe matched one of those targets. In Experiment 1, probes matching targets from trial N-1 or N-3 damaged responding in relation to a novel probe. Proactive interference was also produced by probes differing in state to a previously experienced target. This was further assessed in Experiments 2 and 3. Here, probes differing in colour to a previous target, or matching the general target category only, produced little proactive interference. Conversely, probes directly matching a prior target, or differing in state information, hindered task performance. This study found robust proactive interference in visual working memory that could endure over multiple trials, but it was also produced by stimuli closely resembling an old target. This challenges the notion that proactive interference is produced by an exact representation of a previously encoded image.
Article
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Zusammenfassung Dieser Beitrag im Journal Gruppe. Interaktion. Organisation. stellt dar, wie willentliches Vergessen die Anpassung an notwendige Veränderungen für Individuen, Gruppen und Organisationen verbessert und wie willentliches Vergessen bewusst und gezielt gestaltet werden kann. Damit Verhalten in Folge einer notwendigen Veränderung angepasst wird, reicht es nicht aus, dass Menschen wissen was zu tun ist, willens und in der Lage sind ihr Verhalten zu verändern. Eine Veränderung gelingt nur dann, wenn nur noch das neue Verhalten zur Anwendung kommt und nicht mehr das Alte, wenn das alte Verhalten vergessen wird. Der notwendige Prozess des willentlichen Vergessens ist durch Entfernen von Hinweisreizen, die die Erinnerung des zu Vergessenden und durch Platzierung von Hinweisreizen, die die Aktivierung des Neuen auslösen, gestaltbar. Der vorliegende Beitrag stellt die förderliche Wirkung von Hinweisreizen auf willentliches Vergessen dar, stellt sie im Rahmen des Berichts einer experimentellen Studie unter Beweis und gibt praktische Implikationen, wie für Individuen, Gruppen und Organisationen willentliches Vergessen gestaltet werden kann.
Article
Objective: Loss of knowledge a year after studying neuroanatomy has been shown to be between 47.5% and 60%. This is in contrast to retention rates of 80% or more for the basic sciences generally. The aim of this study was to measure how much neuroanatomy knowledge was retained by chiropractic students a year after taking a neuroanatomy course. Design: One hundred and twenty one eligible students from two cohorts voluntarily completed a selection of multiple choice questions from the previous year's final examination (2011). The scores for the questionnaire were compared with the previous year's results. Results: The 2012 scores for the combined cohort dropped by 35.8%, and there was no difference between the two cohorts (p=0.1282). However the scores for the two cohorts had been different in 2011 (p=0.005) and surprisingly the weaker cohort retained more information, which could be attributed to their use of the knowledge in a unit of clinical neurology they had taken during 2012. Conclusion: The results of this study demonstrate a better retention of neuroanatomy knowledge by our chiropractic students compared to the current literature.
Article
While intervening sleep promotes the consolidation of memory, it is well established that cognitive interference from competing stimuli can impede memory retention. The current study examined changes in motor skill learning across periods of wakefulness with and without competing stimuli, and periods of sleep with and without disruption from external stimuli. A napping study design was adopted where participants (N=44) either had (1) a 30min nap composed of Non-Rapid Eye Movement (NREM) sleep, (2) 30min NREM nap fragmented by audio tone induced arousals, (3) 45mins of quiet wakefulness, or (4) 45mins of active wakefulness. Measures of subjective sleepiness (KSS), alertness (PVT) and motor skill learning (Sequential Finger Tapping Task, SFTT) were completed in the morning and evening to assess performance pre- and post- nap or wakefulness. Following a practice session, change in motor skill performance was measured over a 10min post training rest interval, as well as following a 7 hour morning to evening interval comprising one of the four study conditions. A significant offline enhancement in motor task performance (13-23%) was observed following 10 minutes of rest in all conditions. Following the long delay with the intervening nap/wake condition, there were no further offline gains or losses in performance in any sleep (uninterrupted/fragmented) or wake (quiet/active) condition. The current findings suggest that after controlling for offline gains in performance that occur after a brief rest and likely to due to the dissipation of fatigue, the subsequent effect of an intervening sleep or wake period on motor skill consolidation is not significant. Consistent with this null result, the impact of disrupting the sleep episode or manipulating activity during intervening wake also appears to be negligible.
Article
Is forgetting mostly a positive force in human life? On the surface, this seems to not be the case, and people often associate memory loss with frustration in their everyday lives. Yet, forgetting does not have exclusively negative consequences; it also serves valuable, indeed vital, functions. In this article, I review and reflect on evidence from various areas of research, and I argue that forgetting serves at least three broad purposes. First, it is part of emotion regulation, and it promotes subjective well-being by limiting access to negative memories and by reducing unpleasant affect. Forgetting thereby allows for positivity and painlessness. Second, it is involved in knowledge acquisition, and it provides a basis for obtaining semantic and procedural knowledge by allowing for abstraction and automatization. Third, forgetting is part of context attunement, and it orients information processing for the present and the future by facilitating environmental sensitivity and by ensuring that knowledge is current, which enables timeliness and updating. Overall, I suggest that forgetting helps people to be happy, well-structured, and context sensitive, and thereby that it serves fundamentally adaptive functions.
Article
Retroactive interference (RI)-the disruptive influence of events occurring after the formation of a new memory-is one of the primary causes of forgetting. Placing individuals within an environment that postpones interference should, therefore, greatly reduce the likelihood of information being lost from memory. For example, a short period of wakeful rest should diminish interference-based forgetting. To test this hypothesis, participants took part in a foreign language learning activity and were shown English translations of 20 Icelandic words for immediate recall. Half of the participants were then given an 8-min rest before completing a similar or dissimilar interfering distractor task. The other half did not receive a rest until after the distractor task, at which point interference had already taken place. All participants were then asked to translate the Icelandic words for a second time. Results revealed that retention was significantly worse at the second recall test, but being allowed a brief rest before completing the distractor task helped reduce the amount of forgetting. Taking a short, passive break can shield new memories from RI and alleviate forgetting.
Article
A simple experimental arrangement is designed to foil verbal rehearsal during an extended (from 5 to 30 s) retention interval across which participants attempt to discriminate two periodic complex sounds. Sounds have an abstract timbre that does not lend itself to verbal labeling, they differ across trials so that no 'standard' comparison stimulus is built up by the participants, and the spectral change to be discriminated is very slight and therefore does not shift the stimulus into a new verbal category. And, crucially, in one experimental condition, participants read aloud during most of the retention interval. Despite these precautions, performance is robust across the extended retention interval. The inference is that one form of auditory memory does not require verbal rehearsal. Nevertheless, modest forgetting occurred. Whatever form memory takes in this situation, it is not totally secure from disruption.
Article
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Memory researchers traditionally ignore function in favor of largely structural analyses. For example, it is well known that forming a visual image improves retention, and various proximate mechanisms have been proposed to account for the advantage (e.g., elaboration of the memory trace), but next to nothing is known about why memory evolved such sensitivities. Why did nature craft a memory system that is sensitive to imagery or the processing of meaning? Functional analyses are critical to progress in memory research for two main reasons: First, as in applied research, functional analyses provide the necessary criteria for measuring progress; second, there are good reasons to believe that modern cognitive processes continue to bear the imprint of ancestral selection pressures (i.e., cognitive systems are functionally designed). We review empirical evidence supporting the idea that memory evolved to enhance reproductive fitness; as a consequence, to maximize retention in basic and applied settings it is useful to develop encoding techniques that are congruent with the natural design of memory systems.
Article
Laboratory studies in cognitive psychology with relatively brief final recall intervals suggest that repeated retrieval in the form of tests may result in better retention of information compared with repeated study. Our study evaluates if repeated testing of material taught in a real-life educational setting (a didactic conference for paediatric and emergency medicine residents) replicates these findings when measured at a more educationally relevant final recall interval of 6 months. Residents participated in an interactive teaching session on two topics: (i) status epilepticus, and (ii) myasthenia gravis. Residents were randomised to two counter-balanced groups which either took tests on status epilepticus and studied a review sheet on myasthenia gravis (SE-T/MG-S group) or took tests on myasthenia gravis and studied a review sheet on status epilepticus (MG-T/SE-S group). Testing and studying occurred immediately after teaching and then at two additional times at intervals of about 2 weeks. Residents received feedback after each test. Tests consisted of short-answer questions and the review sheets consisted of information identical to that on the answer sheets for the tests. At about 6 months residents took a final test on both topics. Nineteen residents in the SE-T/MG-S group and 21 residents in the MG-T/SE-S group completed the study. Collapsing across groups, repeated testing produced final test scores that were an average of 13% higher than those produced by repeated study (39% versus 26%) at > 6 months after the initial teaching session (t[78] = 3.93, standard error of the difference = 0.03, P < 0.001, d = 0.91). Repeated testing with feedback appears to result in significantly greater long-term retention of information taught in a didactic conference than repeated, spaced study. Testing should be considered for its potential impact on learning and not only as an assessment device.
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This article contains the argument that the human ability to travel mentally in time constitutes a discontinuity between ourselves and other animals. Mental time travel comprises the mental reconstruction of personal events from the past (episodic memory) and the mental construction of possible events in the future. It is not an isolated module, but depends on the sophistication of other cognitive capacities, including self-awareness, meta-representation, mental attribution, understanding the perception-knowledge relationship, and the ability to dissociate imagined mental states from one's present mental state. These capacities are also important aspects of so-called theory of mind, and they appear to mature in children at around age 4. Furthermore, mental time travel is generative, involving the combination and recombination of familiar elements, and in this respect may have been a precursor to language. Current evidence, although indirect or based on anecdote rather than on systematic study, suggests that nonhuman animals, including the great apes, are confined to a "present" that is limited by their current drive states. In contrast, mental time travel by humans is relatively unconstrained and allows a more rapid and flexible adaptation to complex, changing environments than is afforded by instincts or conventional learning. Past and future events loom large in much of human thinking, giving rise to cultural, religious, and scientific concepts about origins, destiny, and time itself.
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The fan effect (J. R. Anderson, 1974) has been attributed to interference among competing associations to a concept. Recently, it has been suggested that such effects might be due to multiple mental models (G. A. Radvansky, D. H. Spieler, & R. T. Zacks, 1993) or suppression of concepts (M. C. Anderson & B. A. Spellman, 1995; A. R. A. Conway & R. W. Engle, 1994). It was found that the Adaptive Control of Thought - Rational (ACT-R) theory, which embodies associative interference, is consistent with the results of G. A. Radvansky et al. and that there is no evidence for concept suppression in a new fan experiment. The ACT-R model provides good quantitative fits to the results, as shown in a variety of experiments. The 3 key concepts in these fits are (a) the associative strength between 2 concepts reflects the degree to which one concept predicts the other; (b) foils are rejected by retrieving mismatching facts; and (c) participants can adjust the relative weights they give to various cues in retrieval.
Chapter
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Publisher Summary This chapter discusses the causes of memory interference and the extent of situations in which these mechanisms operate. First, the chapter discusses some widely held assumptions about the situation of interference, focusing on the idea that such effects arise from competition for access via a shared retrieval cue. This notion is sufficiently general that it may be applied in a variety of interference settings, which is illustrated briefly. Then the classical interference paradigms from which these ideas emerged are reviewed. The chapter also reviews more recent phenomena that both support and challenge classical conceptions of interference. These phenomena provide compelling illustrations of the generality of interference and, consequently, of the importance of understanding its mechanisms. A recent perspective on interference is highlighted that builds upon insights from modern work, while validating intuitions underlying several of the classical interference mechanisms. According to this new perspective, forgetting derives not from acquiring new memories per se, but from the impact of later retrievals of the newly learned material. After discussing findings from several paradigms that support this retrieval-based view, the chapter illustrates how forgetting might be linked to inhibitory processes underlying selective attention.
Article
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Evidence is reviewed indicating that output interference—the deleterious effects of recall of some information on information recalled later—occurs both in primary and secondary memory. It appears that output interference provides at least a partial account for the disparity between information available in memory and its accessibility at recall. It is argued that consideration of output interference may provide a helpful perspective in resolving problems in the study of episodic and semantic memory, including the negative effects of part-list cueing and the tip-of-the-tongue phenomenon.
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Experiments examining the issue of decay in short-term memory have assumed a single undifferentiated source of processing capacity which cannot be devoted to rehearsal when consumed in the processing of a nonverbal interpolated task. Three experiments reported here call this logic into question, since variations in difficulty in the nonverbal interpolated task failed to affect recall. Slight forgetting produced by a nonverbal interpolated task, relative to a no interpolated task control, was attributed to qualitative differences from performing two tasks simultaneously rather than only one. Results from the third experiment indicated that retrieval after a period of nonverbal interpolated activity is from primary rather than secondary memory.
Article
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Examines the issue of forgetting over short time periods, arguing that it is important to distinguish effects due to absolute amounts of time from those due to relative amounts of time. Topics discussed include immediate memory and its loss, research strategies for assessing decay, decay or proactive interference, and evidence from a 2-two tone comparison task. The authors find no evidence of decay in a situation that has often been viewed as one of the simplest paradigm cases for decay, namely in 2-tone comparisons. However, it is possible that these studies allow for some rehearsal of stimuli. Thus, the authors do not rule out decay as a memory mechanism but have not found clear evidence for it either. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2012 APA, all rights reserved)
Article
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Fits of retention data were examined from 5 conditions: 3 types of cued recall, an old–new recognition task, and a remember–know recognition task. In each condition, 100 participants had either 18 recall or 27 recognition trials at each of 10 delays between 0 and 99 intervening items, providing the first data obtained in experimental psychology that were precise enough to distinguish clearly among simple functions. None of the 105 2-parameter functions tested produced adequate fits to the data. The function y = a₁e –t/1.15 + a₂e –t/T2 + a₃ fit each of the 5 retention conditions. The T₂ parameter in this equation equaled 28 for the 3 recall conditions and the remember–know recognition condition and 13 for the old–new recognition condition. Individuals' recall data fit the same function with parameters varying with gender and scholastic aptitude scores. Reaction times support the claim that the a₁e –t/1.15 term describes working memory, and the remaining 2 terms describe long-term memory. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2012 APA, all rights reserved)
Article
Quantitative theories with free parameters often gain credence when they closely fit data. This is a mistake. A good fit reveals nothing about the flexibility of the theory (how much it cannot fit), the variability of the data (how firmly the data rule out what the theory cannot fit), or the likelihood of other outcomes (perhaps the theory could have fit any plausible result), and a reader needs all 3 pieces of information to decide how much the fit should increase belief in the theory. The use of good fits as evidence is not supported by philosophers of science nor by the history of psychology; there seem to be no examples of a theory supported mainly by good fits that has led to demonstrable progress. A better way to test a theory with free parameters is to determine how the theory constrains possible outcomes (i.e., what it predicts), assess how firmly actual outcomes agree with those constraints, and determine if plausible alternative outcomes would have been inconsistent with the theory, allowing for the variability of the data.
Article
This article is a reply to the comments of Loftus and Bamber and Wixted on a recent article of mine. Various errors and misunderstandings of my approach in those comments are corrected and clarified. It is argued that the question of whether or not forgetting rate depends on the amount of initial learning is best answered by first providing a theoretical definition of forgetting, specifying a forgetting function, defining a rate of forgetting in terms of that function, and then determining whether the initial level of learning appears as a parameter influencing the value of the rate of forgetting. This view opposes that of Loftus and Bamber, who define the learning-forgetting rate issue in terms of the form of the forgetting function itself, and maintain that forgetting rate is independent of rate of learning only if the retention function is a monotone transformation of an exponential function.
Article
Describes experiments in which happy or sad moods were induced in Ss by hypnotic suggestion to investigate the influence of emotions on memory and thinking. Results show that (a) Ss exhibited mood-state-dependent memory in recall of word lists, personal experiences recorded in a daily diary, and childhood experiences; (b) Ss recalled a greater percentage of those experiences that were affectively congruent with the mood they were in during recall; (c) emotion powerfully influenced such cognitive processes as free associations, imaginative fantasies, social perceptions, and snap judgments about others' personalities; (d) when the feeling-tone of a narrative agreed with the reader's emotion, the salience and memorability of events in that narrative were increased. An associative network theory is proposed to account for these results. In this theory, an emotion serves as a memory unit that can enter into associations with coincident events. Activation of this emotion unit aids retrieval of events associated with it; it also primes emotional themata for use in free association, fantasies, and perceptual categorization. (54 ref) (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2012 APA, all rights reserved)
Book
In 1932, Cambridge University Press published Remembering, by psychologist, Frederic Bartlett. The landmark book described fascinating studies of memory and presented the theory of schema which informs much of cognitive science and psychology today. In Bartlett's most famous experiment, he had subjects read a Native American story about ghosts and had them retell the tale later. Because their background was so different from the cultural context of the story, the subjects changed details in the story that they could not understand. Based on observations like these, Bartlett developed his claim that memory is a process of reconstruction, and that this construction is in important ways a social act. His concerns about the social psychology of memory and the cultural context of remembering were long neglected but are finding an interested and responsive audience today. Now reissued in paperback, Remembering has a new Introduction by Walter Kintsch of the University of Colorado, Boulder.
Article
Critical issues in the theoretical and experimental analysis of interference processes in retention are reviewed. The evolution of classical two-factor theory is traced, and the strengths and weaknesses of the contemporary version of this p6sition are examined. Recent critiques of Current interference theories by Martin (1971a) and Greeno, James, and Da Polito (1971) are reviewed and examind. New conceptualizations of interference proposed by these authors, which place major emphasis on retrieval dependencies and on the role of encoding and retrieval processes, are considered and evaluated.
Article
A long standing goal of quantitative research in cognitive psychology has been to provide a lawful description of the retention of information over time. While a number of theoretical alternatives for a retention function have been developed, their empirical evaluation has almost exclusively relied on their ability to fit experimental data. This has meant that the issue of model complexity, which considers the number of parameter in a model and the functional form of parameter interaction, has generally not been considered in a rigorous way. This paper develops a Bayesian method for comparing retention models that naturally considers the competing demands of goodness-of-fit and complexity. We first implement the Bayesian method using numerical techniques, highlighting the basic properties of the method and showing, in particular, how assumptions about the precision of the data affect the inferences that are drawn. We then develop an analytic Bayesian method, based on the Laplacian approximation, that offers some theoretical insights into the inherent complexities of different retention functions, and has the practical advantage of being computationally efficient. We demonstrate both methods by evaluating linear, hyperbolic, exponential, logarithmic and power retention functions against the collection of data sets considered by Rubin and Wenzel (1996).
Article
This paper was directed toward problems involved in the measurement of forgetting uncontaminated by differences in degree of learning. More particularly, it was concerned with these measurements when some variable, such as a characteristic of the task, is being manipulated and when such a variable produces differences in rate of learning. If we are to assess properly the influences of these variables on retention, degree of learning must be equated, since degree of learning and retention are directly related. The two basic situations considered were those in which a constant number of learning trials was given and those in which learning was carried to a specified criterion of performance. The single-entry technique is appropriate only when a constant number of learning trials is used. When a criterion of performance is set for learning another procedure (multiple-entry projection) may be used. Although the mean predictions are fairly accurate by this method, predictions for individual Ss are not. In most studies of retention it seems most efficient to use a constant-trials procedure for learning. Finally, it was pointed out that some studies of short-term retention of single items have probably confounded effects of degree of learning on retention with the effects of variables producing differences in rate of learning the items.
Article
The experiment was conducted to examine the effect of prior-item retention interval on the retention of a given item in a short-term memory test series. There were five conditions. The retention interval for the fifth test of five successive tests was 15 sec. for all five conditions. The retention intervals for tests 1–4 were constant for a condition but varied across conditions. These retention intervals were 5, 10, 15,20 and 25 sec. Five consonant trigrams constructed from the set of letters sharing the vowel sound “e” were used for all conditions. Recall on test 5 was a direct function of prior-item retention interval. The data indicate, therefore, that the availability of prior items for proactive interference is an inverse function of prior-item retention interval.
Article
Almost everyone would agree that the course of forgetting is some curvilinear function of time. The purpose of the research described herein was to identify the nature of that function. Three experiments are reported, two involving human subjects and one involving pigeons. The human experiments investigated this issue using recall of words and recognition of faces, whereas the pigeon experiment employed the standard delayed matching-to-sample task. In all cases, the course of forgetting was best described by a simple power function of time relative to five other reasonable alternatives (linear, exponential, exponential-power, hyperbolic, and logarithmic). Furthermore, a reanalysis of Ebbinghaus's (1885) classic savings function showed that it, too, declines as a power function of time. These findings suggest that the form of forgetting is a relatively robust property of memory performance and that its mathematical description, perhaps only coincidentally, matches that of the psychophysical function.
Article
In several experiments, each presentation of a to-be-remembered item in a free-recall list was both preceded and followed by a distracting activity and recall was delayed by an additional period of distracting activity. Pronounced long-term effects of recency were obtained, the standard short-term memory interpretation of recency effects in free recall notwithstanding. The results are interpreted as reflecting retrieval processes that are obscured by procedural characteristics of typical free-recall experiments.
Article
A sample of 210 published data sets were assembled that (a) plotted amount remembered versus time, (b) had 5 or more points, and (c) were smooth enough to fit at least 1 of the functions tested with a correlation coefficient of .90 or greater. Each was fit to 105 different 2-parameter functions. The best fits were to the logarithmic function, the power function, the exponential in the square root of time, and the hyperbola in the square root of time. It is difficult to distinguish among these 4 functions with the available data, but the same set of 4 functions fit most data sets, with autobiographical memory being the exception. Theoretical motivations for the best fitting functions are offered. The methodological problems of evaluating functions and the advantages of searching existing data for regularities before formulating theories are considered.
Article
the psychology of memory has been an area of constant and productive activity over the last 30 yrs / during that time, it has drawn heavily on neuropsychological evidence derived from patients with memory disorders, and has in turn enriched and influenced our understanding of memory deficits / attempts to provide an overview of recent developments in memory some historical background / stages of memory processing: encoding, storage and retrieval / the fractionation of memory / working memory / long-term memory [the implicit–explicit distinction, declarative memory, nondeclarative memory] / everyday memory [clinical measures of everyday memory, autobiographical memory] (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2012 APA, all rights reserved)
Article
Discusses G. R. Loftus's (see record 1986-05498-001) proposal for comparing relative forgetting rates by evaluating the horizontal interaction rather than the standard vertical interaction, as used by the present author and B. McElree (see record 1984-05823-001) in their study of forgetting of verbal lists as a function of their degree of learning. It is maintained that the proposed method entails an unavoidable confounding with the ages of the lists being compared, such that one list is measured at an earlier point in its forgetting curve than the other. This prevents an unequivocal assessment of the effect of the treatment variable of interest. The vertical interaction appears to be free of artifact. It is concluded that although the horizontal interaction has the advantage of circumventing the scaling problem, this is more than outweighed by the disadvantage of the list-age confound. (7 ref) (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2012 APA, all rights reserved)
Article
This chapter is about the human sense of subjective time. To distinguish it from other time-related and time dependent achievements of the brain/mind, the author refers to it as chronesthesia, which is tentatively defined as a form of consciousness that allows individuals to think about the subjective time in which they live and that makes it possible for them to "mentally travel" in such time. In this chapter, the author attempts to explicate the concept of chronesthesia, suggests what it is (and what it is not), contrast it with other kinds of time-related mentation, discuss the origin of the concept, and, the main reason for the chapter's appearance in the present volume, speculate on chronesthesia's relation to prefrontal cortex. The author concludes the chapter by discussing the role of chronesthesia in human evolution and human culture. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2012 APA, all rights reserved)
Article
Four experiments investigated spontaneous recovery, or memory improvement over time without repeated testing. Although this phenomenon was previously studied within the verbal learning tradition, evidence for its existence was inconclusive. Experiments 1a–3 demonstrated the effect, showing that spontaneous recovery can be produced reliably across different types of study materials. One key is assessing spontaneous recovery in a within-subjects, rather than a between-subjects, design to permit a more sensitive test of the phenomenon. The proposed explanation for the effect invokes the process of retrieval inhibition as the cause of retroactive interference and the subsequent dissipation of inhibition as the cause of spontaneous recovery. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2012 APA, all rights reserved)
Article
Introduces a new explanatory model for forgetting and presents research in its support. The model of cue-dependent forgetting states that, holding constant any qualitative changes in memory traces, impaired recall results from a lack of cognitively appropriate retrieval information. Several studies are cited which uphold the model; increased pertinent retrieval information resulted in increased recall. The model was found to explain forgetting in free recall, retroactive interference, and failures of recognition as well. Advantages of the hypothesis and objections to it are also discussed. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2012 APA, all rights reserved)
In 2 experiments with a total of 72 undergraduates, buildup of proactive inhibition (PI) in the J. Brown (1958) and L. and M. Peterson (1959) paradigm (see PA, Vol 33:5553 and 34:5499) is interpreted in terms of the cue-overload principle: The probability of recalling an item declines with the number of items subsumed by its functional retrieval cue. In contrast to a registration interpretation, the cue-overload view predicts that if the effects of initial recall and of differential recency are controlled, performance in a delayed test of all items from successive lists will be independent of their presentation order. This prediction is supported in Exp I. A long series of Brown-Peterson trials was presented, with the items in each block of 3 trials belonging to the same conceptual category and with initial recall tested only occasionally. The final recall of items from initially untested categories was independent of within-category list position. The cue-overload principle gained further support from Exp II which, with a procedure similar to that used in Exp I, showed that level of final recall varied inversely with the number of lists in the category. The relation of the buildup of PI effect to other memory phenomena is discussed. (30 ref) (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2012 APA, all rights reserved)
Article
A new model for interference and forgetting is presented. The model is based on the search of associative memory (SAM) theory for retrieval from long-term memory by J. G. Raaijmakers and R. M. Shiffrin, see record 1981-20491-001). It includes a contextual fluctuation process that enables it to handle time-dependent changes in retrieval strengths. That is, the contextual retrieval strength is assumed to be proportional to the overlap between the contextual elements encoded in the memory trace and the elements active at the time of testing. It is shown that the model predicts a large number of phenomena from the classical interference literature. These include the basic results concerning retroactive inhibition, proactive inhibition, spontaneous recovery, independence of List 1 and List 2 recall, Osgood's transfer and retroaction surface, simple forgetting functions, the use of recognition measures, and the relation between response accuracy and response latency. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2012 APA, all rights reserved)
Article
Interference theory occupies an unchallenged position as the major significant analysis of the process of forgetting. The only serious opposition has come from the trace theory of the Gestalt psychologists, but that point of view has thus far proved experimentally sterile and resistant to rigorous test. As a result, the recent years have seen little debate about the basic assumptions of interference theory. Developments in the study of forgetting have consisted largely of extensions and refinements of interference theory and of methodological advances in the measurement of retention. The present paper will address itself to these developments. The discussion will be divided into two main sections: (a) a consideration of formal experiments on retroactive and proactive inhibition, and (b) an analysis of extra-experimental sources of interference. A comment by Arthur W. Melton follows this paper, and his discussion is divided into three parts: (1) commentary on some specifics of the paper as they relate to the present status of the interference theory of forgetting; (2) commentary on the new direction for research on forgetting which is formulated as the climax of the argument; and (3) commentary on the limitations of the paper and of the experimental approach that it reflects when one chooses to define the problem of memory and forgetting as fundamental to all behavior theory. The chapter concludes with a summary of the conference discussion which followed the presentation of this paper. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2012 APA, all rights reserved)
Article
From a much larger number 1200 titles have been selected covering the period from the work of Ebbinghaus to and including the year 1930. Selection is on the basis of significance for learning as such, representativeness, and availability. Under Learning, the titles are grouped under fifty topics, and under Retention they are grouped under thirty-two. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2012 APA, all rights reserved)
Article
Text: book; for psychology students. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2012 APA, all rights reserved)
Article
The thesis is advanced that the law of disuse cannot account for the major phenomena of forgetting; first, because it lacks generality, since disuse often fails to produce forgetting; second, because even where forgetting and disuse are correlated, there is no evidence that it was the disuse that caused the forgetting, instead of other important factors which were present; third, because the principle of passive decay has no analogue anywhere else in science, and is illogical; and fourth, that experimental work with retroactive inhibition shows that forgetting varies with interpolated conditions rather than with disuse. Two principles are offered to account for forgetting: interpolated activities and altered stimulating conditions. Disuse is important only in that it gives these primary laws an opportunity to operate. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2012 APA, all rights reserved)
Article
A comprehensive survey of the literature on human learning for advanced students and research workers in this area. Although certain organizational changes are made in the revision, the author has attempted to maintain Dr. McGeoch's (see 16: 4303) systematic position with regard to the increased factual knowledge and new emphasis in the field. Extensive chapter bibliographies. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2012 APA, all rights reserved)
Article
The experimental literature in sensory processes, perception, learning, and symbolic processes is evaluated within a theoretical interpretative framework, and attention is directed to needed further research. The coverage is selective as well as extensive, and a detailed description of critical experiments is given. Material on problems of synesthesia, human problem-solving, and language behavior is included. Controversial theoretical issues are discussed, and an attempt is made toward resolution of the behavioristic vs. gestalt issue wherever it appears. 1290-item bibliography and author index. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2012 APA, all rights reserved)