No retrieval-induced forgetting using item-specific independent cues: evidence against a general inhibitory account

J Exp Psychol Learn Mem Cogn. 2007 Sep;33(5):950-8. doi: 10.1037/0278-7393.33.5.950.

Abstract

Retrieval practice with particular items from memory can impair the recall of related items on a later memory test. This retrieval-induced forgetting effect has been ascribed to inhibitory processes (M. C. Anderson & B. A. Spellman, 1995). A critical finding that distinguishes inhibitory from interference explanations is that forgetting is found with independent (or extralist) cues. In 4 experiments, the authors tested whether the forgetting effect is cue-independent. Forgetting was investigated for both studied and unstudied semantically related items. Retrieval-induced forgetting was not found using item-specific independent cues for either studied or unstudied items. However, forgetting was found for both item types when studied categories were used as cues. These results are not in line with a general inhibitory account, because this account predicts retrieval-induced forgetting with independent cues. Interference and context-specific inhibition are discussed as possible explanations for the data.

MeSH terms

  • Attention*
  • Cues*
  • Humans
  • Inhibition, Psychological*
  • Mental Recall*
  • Paired-Associate Learning*
  • Practice, Psychological
  • Retention, Psychology*
  • Semantics