Academic journal article Canadian Journal of Experimental Psychology

The Role of Spatial Location in Remembering and Forgetting Peripheral Words

Academic journal article Canadian Journal of Experimental Psychology

The Role of Spatial Location in Remembering and Forgetting Peripheral Words

Article excerpt

Abstract

This study examined whether spatial location mediates intentional forgetting of peripherally presented words. Using an item-method directed forgetting paradigm, words were presented in peripheral locations at study. A recognition test presented all words at either the same or a different location relative to study. Results showed that while recognition of Remember words was unaffected by test location, when Forget words were presented in the same location at test as at study, recognition accuracy was significantly greater than when presented in a different location. Experiment 2 showed that the speed to localize a previously studied word was faster when it was presented in the same rather than a different study-test location but that the magnitude of this spatial priming was unaffected by memory instruction. We suggest that the location of peripherally presented words is represented in memory and can aid the retrieval of poorly encoded words.

Résumé Cette étude examine si l'emplacement spatial sert d'intermédiaire à l'oubli intentionnel de mots présentés en périphérie. À l'aide d'un paradigme d'oubli axé sur l'itemméthode, les mots ont été présentés dans des emplacements périphériques lors de la phase d'étude. Un test de reconnaissance présentait tous les mots soit au même emplacement que lors de la phase d'étude, soit à un emplacement différent. Les résultats révèlent qu'alors que la reconnaissance des mots de remémoration n'était pas influencée par l'emplacement du test, lorsque les mots d'oubli étaient présentés au même endroit au test qu'à l'étude, la précision de la reconnaissance était significativement plus grande que lorsqu'ils étaient présentés à un emplacement différent. L'expérience 2 a révélé que la vitesse pour localiser un mot étudié précédemment était plus rapide lorsqu'il était présenté de la même façon plutôt qu'à un emplacement de test-étude différent, mais que l'amplitude de cet amorçage spatial n'a pas été touchée par l'instruction en mémoire. Nous suggérons que l'emplacement des mots présentés en périphérie est représenté dans la mémoire et peut aider à la récupération de mots encodes faiblement.

Intentional forgetting prevents outdated or irrelevant information from interfering with new or relevant information (e.g., Bjork, 1989; E. L. Bjork & R. A. Bjork, 1996). In the laboratory, intentional forgetting is studied using one of two directed forgetting paradigms: The list method and the item method (see Basden & Basden, 1998 for a review). The present study is concerned exclusively with the item-method paradigm. Using the item method, participants are shown a list of words, one at a time. Each word is followed by an instruction to remember or forget. A directed forgetting effect is revealed as better memory for to-be-remembered items than for to-be-forgotten items and occurs for both recall and recognition (e.g., MacLeod, 1999).

Assuming that encoded words should be recognized even if they cannot be recalled, the occurrence of directed forgetting for both recall and recognition has been used to argue that "forgetting" in the item-method paradigm takes place at encoding rather than retrieval. The instruction to remember or forget occurs after word presentation, such that participants must attend to each word as it is displayed. However, because there is a 50% chance that the attended word can be forgotten, participants are thought to use item-based maintenance rehearsal until the presentation of the memory instruction. If the instruction is to remember the preceding word, the participant begins elaborative rehearsal to commit the word to memory; if the instruction is to forget the preceding word, the participant drops the word from the rehearsal set (e.g., Basden, Basden, & Gargano, 1993). This selective rehearsal strategy focuses limited cognitive resources on Remember words, allowing them to be recalled and recognized more accurately than Forget words. …

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