Graduation Year

2005

Document Type

Dissertation

Degree

Ph.D.

Degree Granting Department

Psychology

Major Professor

Michael Anderson.

Co-Major Professor

Lili Sahakyan

Keywords

Memory, Forgetting, Suppression, Integration, Interference

Abstract

When people form episodic connections between memories that share a common retrieval cue, the tendency for those memories to interfere in later retrieval is often eliminated, and forgetting of the interfering information is reduced. For example, episodic integration protects memories from retrieval-induced forgetting (RIF), a phenomenon in which practicing retrieving some associates of a cue leads to the suppression of others that interfere with retrieval (Anderson, Green, and McCulloch, 2000). The purpose of this study was to determine whether semantic integration, as a result of pre-existing associations between practiced items and their unpracticed competitors, also moderates RIF. This research was motivated by the existence of many pre-existing associations between the practiced and unpracticed sets in one study that failed to replicate the RIF effect with item specific cues (Butler, William, Zacks, and Maki, 2001).

It was hypothesized that pre-existing associations increase the implicit, semantic integration among the items, insulating them from inhibitory effects. The results were consistent with this hypothesis: when associations between the practiced and non-practiced sets were maximized, no forgetting was observed, however when such associations were minimized, there were reliable levels of RIF. The benefits of semantic integration were replicated across four experiments including one that used Butlers original materials and design. Furthermore, when Butlers items were simply re-arranged in order to minimize the associations and thus reduce semantic integration, the typical RIF effect was observed. Additional results revealed that the moderating effects of semantic integration are not mediated by explicit integration strategies.

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