Academic journal article Memory & Cognition

Internal Reinstatement Hides Cuing Effects in Source Memory Tasks

Academic journal article Memory & Cognition

Internal Reinstatement Hides Cuing Effects in Source Memory Tasks

Article excerpt

Abstract Reinstating source details at test often has no impact on source memory. We tested the proposition that participants internally reinstate source cues when such cues are not provided by the experimenter, thus making the external cues redundant. Participants studied words paired with either a male or a female face and were later asked to specify the gender of the face studied with each word. To disrupt the ability to internally reinstate sources, some participants saw eight male faces and eight female faces throughout the study list (multiple-face condition), making it difficult to determine which face should be internally reinstated for uncued test trials. Other participants saw only a single face for each gender (single-face condition), which should facilitate internal reinstatement. Across three experiments, participants in the multiple-face condition showed improved source discrimination when the studied faces were reinstated at test, as compared to uncued trials. In contrast, participants in the single-face conditionshowednoeffectof the face cues. Moreover, the cuing effect for the multiple-face condition disappeared when the test structure facilitated internal reinstatement. Overall, the experiments support the contention that internal reinstatement is a natural part of source retrieval that can mask the effects of external cues.

Keywords Source memory . Reinstatement effects . Cuing effects

An emphasis on the importance of retrieval cues permeates theories of long-term memory. General theoretical principles (e.g., encoding specificity; Tulving & Thomson, 1973) and specific mathematical models of memory (e.g., global matching models; Clark & Gronlund, 1996) have proposed that memory performance depends on the match between processing at encoding and retrieval. Retrieval cues should improve memory when they reinstate features of the encoding event.

Much cuing research has focused on the impact of reinstating contextual features (see Smith & Vela, 2001, for a review). If contextual details are processed and incorporated into long-term memories at encoding (Johnson, Hashtroudi, & Lindsay, 1993), then reinstating aspects of the encoding context at retrieval should improve memory performance. Indeed, recall consistently shows this benefit (Smith & Vela, 2001). In a classic example, participants recall more words when they are tested in the same room in which they learned the words than when they are tested in a different room (e.g., Smith, 1979). In contrast, many experiments show no effect of context cues on discriminability in recognition and source tasks (Fernandez & Glenberg, 1985; Godden & Baddeley, 1980; Murnane & Phelps, 1993, 1994, 1995;Smith, Glenberg, & Bjork, 1978; Starns & Hicks, 2005).

In this article, we focus on cuing effects in source memory (Johnson et al., 1993). In a source memory task, participants first study items in different contexts or presentation formats; for example, they might learn a list of words presented by a male or female speaker. Words are then presented at test, and participants are asked to identify the relevant source information (e.g., respond "male" or "female"). New items that were not encountered in any source are often included at test, in which case participants are required to both recognize words that they previously encountered and determine the source of each recognized word. Our primary goals are to test a theoretical explanation for null effects of source reinstatement and to develop procedures that promote consistent cuing effects.

Reinstatement effects in source memory

A number of studies have evaluated reinstatement effects in source memory (Craik & Kirsner, 1974;Dodson,2007; Dodson & Shimamura, 2000;Kirsner,1973; Leynes, Bink, Marsh, Allen, & May, 2003; Palmeri, Goldinger, & Pisoni, 1993; Roediger, McDermott, Pisoni, & Gallo, 2004;Starns& Hicks, 2005;Vogt&Bröder,2007). …

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