Academic journal article Psychonomic Bulletin & Review

Dynamic Memory Searches: Selective Output Interference for the Memory of Facts

Academic journal article Psychonomic Bulletin & Review

Dynamic Memory Searches: Selective Output Interference for the Memory of Facts

Article excerpt

Published online: 25 April 2015

© Psychonomic Society, Inc. 2015

Abstract The benefits of testing on later memory performance are well documented; however, the manner in which testing harms memory performance is less well understood. This research is concerned with the finding that accuracy decreases over the course of testing, a phenomena termed Boutput interference" (OI). OI has primarily been investigated with episodic memory, but there is limited research investigating OI in measures of semantic memory (i.e., knowledge). In the current study, participants were twice tested for their knowledge of factual questions; they received corrective feedback during the first test. No OI was observed during the first test, when participants presumably searched semantic memory to answer the general-knowledge questions. During the second test, OI was observed. Conditional analyses of Test 2 performance revealed that OI was largely isolated to questions answered incorrectly during Test 1. These were questions for which participants needed to rely on recent experience (i.e., the feedback in episodic memory) to respond correctly. One possible explanation is that episodic memory is more susceptible to the sort of interference generated during testing (e.g., gradual changes in context, encoding/updating of items) relative to semantic memory. Alternative explanations are considered.

Keywords Interference . Knowledge . Recognition . Testing

Understanding the value of testing and the use of testing as a learning device is critically important, especially with the growing use of high-stakes testing in education. What makes testing benefits particularly interesting is the differential impact of information learned during testing relative to information learned during an equivalent amount of time spent studying the material. For example, participants tend to remember information better if they complete a free recall test than if they simply study the material again (Karpicke & Roediger, 2008; Roediger & Karpicke, 2006a). While testing has robust and reliable benefits (see Delaney, Verkoeijen, & Spirgel, 2010; Karpicke, Lehman, & Aue, 2014; Roediger & Karpicke, 2006b, for reviews), there are also negative consequences of testing (see Malmberg, Lehman, Annis, Criss, & Shiffrin, 2014). For instance, retrieving a subset of studied items associated with a particular cue (e.g., category membership) during test can impair retrieval of other items from the same set (Malmberg, Criss, Gangwani, & Shiffrin, 2012; Roediger, 1973; Slamecka, 1968). A substantial negative consequence of testing is the finding that performance decreases over the course of a test list (Criss, Malmberg, & Shiffrin, 2011; Murdock & Anderson, 1975; Ratcliff& Hockley, 1980; Roediger, 1974; Roediger & Schmidt, 1980). This finding, termed Boutput interference" (OI), has been modeled as the result of encoding during test by either updating existing memories with information gained during the test or adding new traces to episodic memory. Consequently, items that are tested toward the end of a test list suffer from additional interference generated by the information added to memory during the course of testing (Criss et al., 2011).

The negative effects of OI are robust and widespread. The effect has been observed in both recall (Raaijmakers & Shiffrin, 1981; Roediger & Schmidt, 1980) and recognition (Criss et al., 2011; Ratcliff& Hockley, 1980; Annis, Malmberg, Criss, & Shiffrin, 2013; Malmberg et al., 2012) and with different methodological and stimulus variations, including categorized (Criss et al., submitted; Malmberg et al., 2012; Roediger & Schmidt, 1980) and randomly generated lists of words (Criss et al., 2011; Annis et al., 2013; Malmberg et al., 2012), across study test lag after both short and long delays (Criss et al., 2011; Roediger & Schmidt, 1980; A. D. Smith, 1973) for target- and distractor-free tests (Koop, Criss,&Malmberg, 2015) and following feedback (Criss et al. …

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