Academic journal article Memory & Cognition

The Retrieval Practice Effect in Associative Recognition

Academic journal article Memory & Cognition

The Retrieval Practice Effect in Associative Recognition

Article excerpt

Recalling an item interferes with recall of related memories. Evidence is presented that retrieval interference occurs in associative recognition as well as recall. In Experiment 1, subjects studied pairs of category exemplars. Retrieval practice followed, during which some pairs appeared in a cued recall test. A final test of associative recognition (with remember-know judgments) found lower accuracy and hit rate for nonpracticed pairs belonging to retrieval-practiced categories. In Experiment 2, subjects studied noun pairs from overlapping sets, with study duration manipulated between subjects. Retrieval practice was manipulated by presenting some members of a set in a previous block during the recognition test. With long study duration, retrieval interference was evident in both recognition and remember judgments. With short study duration, it appeared only in remember judgments. These results support a dual-process account in which retrieval interference is specific to recollection and becomes evident in recognition performance only when recollection is sufficiently dominant.

The idea that recognition takes different forms is an old one in the memory literature. Feingold (1915) distinguished between context-free familiarity and recognition through intermediating facts like ideas, images, and associations. Lehman (1889; cited in Strong & Strong, 1916) spoke of knowing simply that something was seen before as opposed to knowing details like where and when. The distinction between a nonspecific sense of past experience, familiarity, and specific memory for detail or context, recollection, is the basis for contemporary dual-process theories of recognition (Atkinson & Juola, 1974; Mandler, 1980; Reder et al., 2000; Yonelinas, 1994). It has often been suggested that recollection in recognition is based on a retrieval process similar or identical to that found in recall (Brown, 1976; Clark, 1999; Humphreys, 1978; Mandler, 1980). If this is true, manipulations that affect recall should have similar effects on recollection-based recognition.

Familiarity is typically described as a global match between a retrieval cue and the contents of memory. It provides aggregate evidence that something was previously encountered (Gillund & Shiffrin, 1984; Hintzman, 1988). In contrast, recall of specific information is typically described as competitive search, and interference occurs when retrieval of the desired item is made more difficult by the presence of other items that also match the cue. This characteristic has been used to explain standard findings in recall such as proactive and retroactive interference, part-set cuing, output interference, and the timecourse of self-paced recall (M. C. Anderson, R. A. Bjork, & E. L. Bjork, 1994; Rundus, 1973; Wixted, Ghadisha, & Vera, 1997; Wixted & Rohrer, 1994). If recollection-based recognition depends on a retrieval process similar to that found in recall, then it should also be vulnerable to competitive interference.

A phenomenon linked to competitive interference is the retrieval-induced forgetting observed in M. C. Anderson et al.'s (1994) retrieval practice paradigm. Subjects studied items belonging to a number of semantic categories. Following study, some of the items appeared again as targets in a cued recall test. This retrieval practice benefited recall of the items during a final recall test. However, other studied items from the same categories which were not given retrieval practice were less likely to be recalled than items belonging to nonpracticed categories. In other words, retrieving some members of a category interfered with the later retrieval of other members of the same category.

Phenomena such as part-set cuing and the list-strength effect have been attributed to passive forms of interference (Ratcliff, Clark, & Shiffrin, 1990; Rundus, 1973; Watkins, 1975). With retrieval practice, recalling an item might make it more available, due either to transient activation or because its association with the cue is strengthened relative to that of other items. …

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