LTM forgetting explanations

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  • LTM explanations of forgetting
    • Interference
      • Retroactive
        • Recently learnt information interferes with the recall of older information
        • e.g. Recalling a new pin number when using your old card.
      • Effect of similarity
        • Interference is worse for both retro + proactive interference if the memories are too similar
          • McGeoch and McDonald (1931) studied retroactive interference by changing the similarity between two lists of words Synonym group, lowest mean recall; Antonyms slightly higher. Number lists highest recall.
      • Evaluation
        • Consistently shown in lab experiments, lab removes effects of irrelevant influences of extraneous variables.
          • Artificial tasks: learning lists of words isn't representative of everyday life so can't apply explanation to everyday forgetting
            • Low ecological validity & mundane realism
        • Baddeley and Hitch (1997) studied everyday situations of forgetting
          • Asked rugby players to remember the names of the teams they had played this season, week by week. Did not depend on how long ago, but how many matches had occurred since then
            • Recall was higher if less games had been played in the meantime
          • Natural experiment because makes use of whats already there and does not manipulate IV
    • Retrieval failure
      • Encoding specificity principle (ESP)
        • Tulving said memory is most effective is info present at learning is present at retrieval
        • Godden and Baddeley (1975) asked divers to learn list of words underwater or on land, then recall underwater or on land (4 conditions)
          • In conditions where external cues were different, recall was 40% less accurate
          • Carter and Cassaday (1998) did the same using anti-histamines (4 conditions) and found recall was significantly worse when internal cues were different
            • Real life application of internal physiology changing/ state dependent forgetting
          • Evaluation
            • Baddeley argues context effects are not that strong, external cues need to be very different for effect to be seen
              • COUNTER ARGUMENT: can explain everyday behaviours such as going into a room and forgetting your purpose, going back into the previous room and remembering
      • The memory is there but we cannot access it due to insufficient internal ( e.g. mood) and external (e.g. environment) cues
        • Context dependent forgetting = external cues
        • State dependant forgetting = internal cues


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