Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Research byte: Individual differences in working memory capacity predict retrieval-induced forgetting.

Selectively retrieving a subset of previously studied information enhances memory for the retrieved information but causes forgetting of related, nonretrieved information. Such retrieval-induced forgetting (RIF) has often been attributed to inhibitory executive-control processes that supposedly suppress the nonretrieved items' memory representation. Here, we examined the role of working memory capacity (WMC) in young adults' RIF. WMC was assessed by means of the operation span task. Results revealed a positive relationship between WMC and RIF, with high-WMC individuals showing more RIF than low-WMC individuals. In contrast, individuals showed enhanced memory for retrieved information regardless of WMC. The results are consistent with previous individual-differences work that suggests a close link between WMC and inhibitory efficiency. In particular, the finding supports the inhibitory executive-control account of RIF. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2010 APA, all rights reserved)

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Kevin McGrew, PhD
Educational Psychologist

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