Academic journal article Cognitie, Creier, Comportament

The Re-Encoding Processes of Restudy and Testing Are Equally Susceptible to the Impairment of Divided Attention

Academic journal article Cognitie, Creier, Comportament

The Re-Encoding Processes of Restudy and Testing Are Equally Susceptible to the Impairment of Divided Attention

Article excerpt

When verbal or pictorial materials are first studied and then either restudied or tested, subsequent retention tends to be better for tested items than for restudied items (Carpenter & DeLosh, 2005; Roediger & Karpicke, 2006b). Such mnemonic enhancement in (long-term) retention as a result of testing is referred to as the testing effect (see Roediger & Karpicke, 2006a; Rowland, 2014 for extensive reviews; also Delaney, Verkoeijen, & Spirgel, 2010; Pashler, Rohrer, & Carpenter, 2007). This phenomenon suggests that testing itself can serve as a re-encoding opportunity to support later memory performance.

An investigation of the effects of attention on the re-encoding processes during both restudy and testing could potentially provide unique insights into the cognitive mechanisms of testing effect. To set the background, previous research (see Craik, 2001; Dudukovic, 2008, Chapter 1.2, for reviews) has demonstrated that memory encoding and retrieval respond differently to the manipulation of attention. Specifically, dividing attention (DA) during encoding has been shown to negatively impact subsequent remembering (Baddeley, Lewis, Eldridge, & Thomson, 1984; Craik, Govoni, Naveh-Benjamin, & Anderson, 1996) whereas DA during retrieval has been shown to be generally less detrimental (cf. Fernandes & Moscovitch, 2000; Hicks & Marsh, 2000).

Recent research (see Table 1) has extended DA findings from single-trial encoding and/or retrieval paradigms to multi-trial studies in order to investigate the effects of DA during restudy and retrieval on later memory. However, the findings from these studies are mixed, with the effect of DA during restudy showing a more consistent pattern of results than the effect of DA during retrieval. For example, Guez and Naveh-Benjamin (2006) found that DA, compared with full attention (FA), at encoding of word pairs that were repeated three times resulted in a significant drop in immediately cued recall performance, suggesting that DA impacts memory encoding for restudied items similarly to items that are studied only once.

With respect to studies of divided attention during retrieval, there exist three result patterns (i.e., detrimental effect of DA, no effect of DA, and beneficial effect of DA). First, Dudukovic, DuBrow, and Wagner (2009) had participants study a series of pictures under FA, and then perform a recognition test under either FA or DA. Similar to previous findings, DA had only a minimal impact on memory performance on this intervening test. It was on the final recognition test (conducted under only FA two days later) that the impairment of DA, however, emerged. In contrast, Gaspelin, Ruthruff, and Pashler (2013) found that Swahili-English word pairs tested under FA and DA were recalled equally well on the final test two days later. Kessler, Vandermorris Gopie, Daros, Winocur, and Moscovitch (2014) paradoxically observed that DA enhanced later memory (perhaps through an increase in contextual variability), if the intervening test was delayed to allow for memory consolidation after the initial study.

The primary purpose of the present study was to juxtapose restudy and testing in order to assess, from an attention perspective, whether the re-encoding process occurring during testing (that contributes to a superior subsequent memory, i.e., testing effect) is different from the re-encoding process during the restudy. To this end, we adopted a concurrent task to divide attention during restudy and testing. Based on the literature above, two possible kinds of results could be expected. On the one hand, DA (vs. FA) would impair final memory in both restudy and testing, with the magnitude of impairment being similar in two conditions or larger in one condition than in the other. On the other hand, DA during restudy would impair final memory but DA during testing would not. To foreshow our findings, the overall results from Experiment 1 and 2 showed that DA during restudy and testing impaired final recall in both groups equivalently, thereby supporting the first outcome and suggesting that re-encoding nature of restudy and testing might be similar in terms of attentional demands. …

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