Seminar Series

Retrieval induced forgetting: inhibition or transfer appropriate forgetting?

The retrieval induced forgetting paradigm is a development of a standard paired-associate recall test, in which participants repeatedly retrieve a subset of items prior to a final recall test for all items. For example, participants may study a list that contains the following pairs: FRUIT – orange, FRUIT – apple, TOOLS – hammer, TOOLS – saw. Later, participants recall the appropriate word to the cue FRUIT – or____ on 3 occasions. Finally, participants recall all items to category cues (e.g. FRUIT - ?). Prior recall of orange improves later recall of that item, but impairs recall of the related item apple, compared to the baseline items hammer and saw. This is the retrieval induced forgetting effect. Mike Anderson has argued that the basis of the effect is a long-lasting inhibitory process that acts upon representations in memory. In this talk I will present some data that question this account, and offer an alternative, non-inhibitory account of the phenomenon, which I have dubbed “transfer appropriate forgetting”.