Retrieval-Induced Forgetting

From time to time we all have had a feeling- a sense of being limited in the knowledge we can maintain in a highly accessible state. Such knowledge resides outside of working memory but, nevertheless, remains in a state poised precariously at the periphery of awareness, ready, by virtue of frequent or recent use, to be handily dispensed. Retrieval processes can have a substantial impact on the long- term accessibility of items in memory. However, a successful retrieval can facilitate later of the retrieved items. This phenomenon has been referred to as retrieval-induced forgetting. The retrieval is sufficient to cause forgetting but there has been little work that has examined whether retrieval is necessary for these effects to occur.

It is possible that the mechanisms underlying retrieval-induced forgetting do not require effortful recall to have their detrimental impact. For instance, many models of interference predict that strengthening the representation of an item by any means should block retrieval access to related items. Blocking of this sort may be thought of in terms of in terms of tip-of-the-tongue experiences, in which we forget a word or a name, presumably because of persistent intrusions of a highly accessible similar name. If strengthening items through retrieval practice impairs access to related knowledge, other means of strengthening for instance, extra study time or extra repetitions, should be equally disruptive.

Retrieval-induced forgetting does not necessarily speak to the existence of recall-specific forgetting mechanisms; several properties of this phenomenon suggest that it is produced by inhibitory processes that resolve retrieval interference. Hence, while some of the properties of this phenomenon have been known there still remains a question regarding the controlled nature in comparison to the automated nature of the mechanism responsible for reducing the ability to recall items.

Besides this the duration or time period of such reduced ability remains unclear. Regarding these questions, it can be said that this phenomenon is the result of the activation of a cognitive control mechanism that is efficient even in individuals with a partial executive control deficiency. The access to memory traces is reduced under the effect of this mechanism and that may result in the recalling of target information. The type of information decides its persistence. Since the forgotten information can be recalled shortly when it occupies a central part of the cognitive structure of the individual, this phenomenon is not permanent and the treatments for this may be possible in the near future.

Retrieval-Induced Forgetting
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