Less we forget: retrieval cues and release from retrieval-induced forgetting.
Retrieving some items from memory can impair the subsequent recall of other related but not retrieved items, a phenomenon called retrieval-induced forgetting (RIF). The dominant explanation of RIF-the inhibition account-asserts that forgetting occurs because related items are suppressed during retrieval practice to reduce retrieval competition. This item inhibition persists, making it more difficult to recall the related items on a later test. In our set of experiments, each category was designed such that each exemplar belonged to one of two subcategories (e.g., each BIRD exemplar was either a bird of prey or a pet bird), but this subcategory information was not made explicit during study or retrieval practice. Practicing retrieval of items from only one subcategory led to RIF for items from the other subcategory when cued only with the overall category label (BIRD) at test. However, adapting the technique of Gardiner, Craik, and Birtwistle (Journal of Learning and Verbal Behavior 11:778-783, 1972), providing subcategory cues during the final test eliminated RIF. The results challenge the inhibition account's fundamental assumption of cue independence but are consistent with a cue-based interference account.
Jonker, TR; Seli, P; Macleod, CM
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