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Retrieval-induced forgetting and mental imagery

Saunders, Jo and Fernandes, Marcelle and Kosnes, Liv (2009) Retrieval-induced forgetting and mental imagery. Memory and Cognition, 37 (6). pp. 819-828. ISSN 0090-502X

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Abstract

In the present article, we present four experiments in which we examined whether mental imagery can initiate retrieval-induced forgetting. Participants were presented with word pairs (Experiments 1, 2, and 3) or narratives (Experiment 4) and then engaged in selective mental imagery about half of the details from half of the categories. The results indicated that mental imagery can produce the same pattern of impairment as retrieval practice (Experiment 1) and postevent questioning (Experiment 4). Additionally, mental imagery-invoked, retrieval-induced forgetting was found for category cued recall (Experiments 1, 3, and 4) and cued recall (Experiment 2); it was found to dissipate across a 24-h delay, but only when there was no pre-delay test (Experiment 3). Such retrieval-induced forgetting was also found for imagining from the first-person and third-person perspectives (Experiment 4). From these findings, we suggest that the underlying retrieval processes behind mental imagery can initiate retrieval-induced forgetting. The findings are discussed in terms of inhibitory processes.