Academic journal article Attention, Perception and Psychophysics

Memory Instruction Interacts with Both Visual and Motoric Inhibition of Return

Academic journal article Attention, Perception and Psychophysics

Memory Instruction Interacts with Both Visual and Motoric Inhibition of Return

Article excerpt

Published online: 17 January 2015

© The Psychonomic Society, Inc. 2014

Abstract In the item-method directed forgetting paradigm, the magnitude of inhibition of return (IOR) is larger after an instruction to forget (F) than after an instruction to remember (R). In the present experiments, we further investigated this increased magnitude of IOR after F than after R memory instructions, to determine whether this F > R IOR pattern occurs only for the motoric form of IOR, as predicted, or also for the visual form. In three experiments, words were presented in one of two peripheral locations, followed by either an F or an R memory instruction. Then, a target appeared either at the same location as the previous word or at the other location. In Experiment 1, participants maintained fixation throughout the trial until the target appeared, at which point they made a saccade to the target. In Experiment 2, they maintained fixation throughout the entire trial and made a manual localization response to the target. The F > R IOR difference in reaction times occurred for both the saccadic and manual responses, suggesting that memory instructions modify both motoric and visual forms of IOR. In Experiment 3, participants made a perceptual discrimination response to report the identity of a target while the eyes remained fixed. The F > R IOR difference also occurred for these manual discrimination responses, increasing our confidence that memory instructions modify the visual form of IOR. We relate our findings to postulated differences in attentional withdrawal following F and R instructions and consider the implications of the findings for successful forgetting.

Keywords Attention-memory interaction . Inhibition of return

Our ability to learn from and remember characteristics of our environment is, arguably, one of the key factors underlying the sophistication of human functioning. Not only does memory provide us with a sense of self and continuity through time (Gallagher, 2000), but information from long-term memory influences even the most basic cognitive functions, such as perception and attention-this is at the heart of the wellknown interactions between top-down and bottom-up processing (e.g., Ciaramelli, Grady, & Moscovitch, 2008; Duncan & Humphreys, 1989; Posner & Petersen, 1990).

In the study of memory, it is clear that forgetting irrelevant information that might otherwise interfere with successful encoding or retrieval can be just as important for creating an accurate representation of the world as remembering relevant information (MacLeod, 1998). For example, it serves us well to forget an instructional error made by a professor. If we were unable to forget such irrelevant information, it might interfere with our memory for the accurate information (Anderson, Bjork, & Bjork, 1994; Anderson & Neely, 1996; Postman & Underwood, 1973). The intentional forgetting of irrelevant or misleading information is studied in the laboratory using the directed forgetting paradigm.

In this paradigm, participants are presented with information (typically words, but a wide variety of stimuli have been used-see, e.g., Hourihan, Ozubko, & MacLeod, 2009; Quinlan, Taylor, & Fawcett, 2010) and are asked to remember some things and to forget others. Two main procedures can be used: the list method and the item method. The present investigation concerns the item method (for reviews of both methods, see MacLeod, 1998,orBasden&Basden,1998). Participants in an item-method directed forgetting paradigm are presented with items one at a time, and each is followed by an instruction to remember (R) or forget (F). After all items have been presented, participants' memory of both RandF items is tested with some kind of explicit test of memory (often yes-no recognition; although see Thompson, Fawcett, & Taylor, 2011). The typical results show greater memory performance for R items than for F items-the directed forgetting effect (DF effect). …

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