Experience with proactive interference diminishes its effects: mechanisms of change

Mem Cognit. 2011 Feb;39(2):185-95. doi: 10.3758/s13421-010-0017-4.


In three experiments, we examined the mechanisms by which prior experience with proactive interference (PI) diminished its effects. Cued recall tasks conforming to an A-B, A-D paradigm were used to induce PI effects. Experiment 1 showed that reduced PI was not due to a reduction in attention to the source of PI. Experiment 2 revealed that participants' awareness of PI effects on memory performance increased with experience, resulting in a shift in encoding processes. Experiment 3 demonstrated that changes in encoding provided additional support for recollection that further enhanced participants' ability to constrain their retrieval processing to the appropriate source of information at the time of test. These results can be interpreted as showing that experience with PI enhances awareness of its effects and allows individuals to adjust their learning and retrieval strategies to compensate for such effects.

MeSH terms

  • Attention*
  • Awareness*
  • Humans
  • Memory, Short-Term
  • Mental Recall*
  • Paired-Associate Learning*
  • Proactive Inhibition*
  • Serial Learning*