Nathaniel L. Foster
Bio: Nathaniel L. Foster is an academic researcher from University of North Carolina at Greensboro. The author has contributed to research in topics: Forgetting & Motivated forgetting. The author has an hindex of 4, co-authored 4 publications receiving 164 citations.
TL;DR: The authors provide an up-to-date review of the twenty-first century research and theory on list-method directed forgetting (DF) and related phenomena like the context-change effect.
Abstract: The primary purpose of this chapter is to provide an up-to-date review of the twenty-first century research and theory on list-method directed forgetting (DF) and related phenomena like the context-change effect. Many researchers have assumed that DF is diagnostic of inhibition, but we argue for an alternative, noninhibitory account and suggest reinterpretation of earlier findings. We first describe what DF is and the state of the art with regard to measuring the effect. Then, we review recent evidence that brings DF into the family of effects that can be explained by global memory models. The process-based theory we advocate is that the DF impairment arises from mental context change and that the DF benefits emerge mainly but perhaps not exclusively from changes in encoding strategy. We review evidence (some new to this paper) that strongly suggests that DF arises from the engagement of controlled forgetting strategies that are independent of whether people believed the forget cue or not. Then we describe the vast body of literature supporting that forgetting strategies result in contextual change effects, as well as point out some inconsistencies in the DF literature that need to be addressed in future research. Next, we provide evidence—again, some of it new to this chapter—that the reason people show better memory after a forget cue is that they change encoding strategies. In addition to reviewing the basic research with healthy population, we reinterpret the evidence from the literature on certain clinical populations, providing a critique of the work done to date and outlining ways of improving the methodology for the study of DF in special populations. We conclude with a critical discussion of alternative approaches to understanding DF.
TL;DR: In this paper, the authors used the item-method of directed forgetting and obtained greater directed forgetting for VTs than SPTs, but only in the primacy region for SPTs.
Abstract: Performing action phrases (subject-performed tasks, SPTs) leads to better memory than verbal learning instructions (verbal tasks, VTs). In Experiments 1–3, the list-method directed forgetting design produced equivalent directed forgetting impairment for VTs and SPTs; however, directed forgetting enhancement emerged only for VTs, but not SPTs. Serial position analyses revealed that both item types suffered equivalent forgetting across serial positions, but enhancement was evident mostly in the first half of List 2. Experiment 4 used the item-method of directed forgetting and obtained greater directed forgetting for VTs than SPTs. A remember-all baseline group allowed estimating the impairment for to-be-forgotten (TBF) items and enhancement for to-be-remembered (TBR) items. Serial position analyses showed greater impairment for TBF items from the beginning of the list than elsewhere in the list. Directed forgetting enhancement for TBR items occurred throughout the list for VTs, but only in the primacy region for SPTs. Overall, dissociations across the list-method and item-method studies with SPTs suggest that the two methods have different underlying mechanisms. Furthermore, dissociations obtained with SPTs within list-method studies provide support for the dual-factor directed forgetting account and challenge the single-factor accounts.
TL;DR: The present experiment investigated whether de-emphasising forgetting affected the magnitude of list-method directed forgetting in college adults and indicated equivalent directed forgetting for both types of cues.
Abstract: Research suggests that manipulating the wording of the forget cue in list-method directed forgetting affects the magnitude of directed forgetting both in younger children (Aslan, Staudigl, Samenieh, & Bauml, in press) and in older adults (Sahakyan, Delaney, & Goodmon, 2008). This occurs when the forget cue overemphasises the importance of forgetting in the current context. The present experiment investigated whether de-emphasising forgetting affected the magnitude of list-method directed forgetting in college adults. Some participants received overt forget cues that explicitly instructed them to forget earlier studied items, whereas others received covert forget cues that implied forgetting by emphasising selective remembering (e.g., "you will only need to remember some of the items"). Results indicated equivalent directed forgetting for both types of cues. However, regardless of the type of cue received, participants who reported using specific forgetting strategies in response to the forget cue showed directed forgetting, whereas those that reported doing nothing did not show any effects. The results underscore that successful directed forgetting requires engagement of controlled processes.
TL;DR: Overall, the results showed that the recall advantage for loud items emerges only in response to the need to forget some items, and proposes 2 mechanisms to account for these results.
Abstract: In 4 experiments, we examined whether metacognitive beliefs about item memorability influence item-method directed forgetting. In Experiment 1, participants studied loud and quiet items, which were subsequently cued as to-be-remembered (TBR) or to-be-forgotten (TBF). Typically, the volume of stimuli does not influence recall, although loud items are judged as more memorable than quiet items (Rhodes & Castel, 2009). In contrast, we found a recall advantage for loud items in directed forgetting, although this was observed for TBR items but not TBF items. The loud item advantage disappeared in Experiment 2, when we eliminated all TBF trials and instead inserted additional trials during which participants could engage in extra rehearsal of earlier presented items. In Experiments 3 and 4, a recall advantage for loud items was observed again when items were assigned a mixture of positive and negative values, but it did not emerge when items were assigned graded positive values. Overall, the results showed that the recall advantage for loud items emerges only in response to the need to forget some items. We propose 2 mechanisms to account for these results-either participants select to rehearse loud items as a controlled strategy that allows them to forget some items, or they have an unconscious preference for loud items that emerges only in response to the need to forget.
TL;DR: This article showed that interleaved practice and delaying judgments can produce diagnostic cues for predicting performance and in turn improve judgment accuracy, but judgment accuracy was greater when the judgments were delayed compared to when they were immediate.
Abstract: How could people enhance the accuracy of judgments for predicting math performance on an upcoming test? Research on category-learning judgments shows that their accuracy is poor for predicting performance for mathematics concepts. Based on cue-utilization theory, interleaved practice (which can enhance performance) and delaying judgments after initial study were expected to produce diagnostic cues for predicting performance and in turn improve judgment accuracy. In three experiments, we had participants practice solving problems involving (a) volumes of three-dimensional shapes (Experiments 1, 2, and 3) and (b) fractions (Experiments 1 and 3). Critically, participants either interleaved or blocked their practice of these math materials, and then judgments were made immediately after practice and after a week-long delay when participants returned for the criterion test. Judgment accuracy did not improve for the interleaved practice versus blocked practice groups, but judgment accuracy was greater when the judgments were delayed compared to when they were immediate. (PsycInfo Database Record (c) 2022 APA, all rights reserved).
TL;DR: A neurobiological model of memory control can inform disordered control over memory and electrophysiological activity during motivated forgetting implicates active inhibition.
Abstract: Not all memories are equally welcome in awareness. People limit the time they spend thinking about unpleasant experiences, a process that begins during encoding, but that continues when cues later remind someone of the memory. Here, we review the emerging behavioural and neuroimaging evidence that suppressing awareness of an unwelcome memory, at encoding or retrieval, is achieved by inhibitory control processes mediated by the lateral prefrontal cortex. These mechanisms interact with neural structures that represent experiences in memory, disrupting traces that support retention. Thus, mechanisms engaged to regulate momentary awareness introduce lasting biases in which experiences remain accessible. We argue that theories of forgetting that neglect the motivated control of awareness omit a powerful force shaping the retention of our past.
TL;DR: In this paper, the authors review the claim that the inhibition theory provides a better account of forgetting than more traditional competition-based theories and conclude that the theoretical status of inhibition as an explanation for interference and forgetting is problematic.
Abstract: The standard textbook account of interference and forgetting is based on the assumption that retrieval of a memory trace is affected by competition by other memory traces. In recent years, a number of researchers have questioned this view and have proposed an alternative account of forgetting based on a mechanism of suppression. In this inhibition account, such forgetting is due to an inhibitory control process that operates whenever non-target information hinders the retrieval of a specific target item. It is assumed that the memory traces of these non-target items are suppressed or inhibited in order to overcome their interfering effects and it is claimed that this inhibition has a longer-lasting effect on the strength of the suppressed memory traces. In this paper we critically review the claim that the inhibition theory provides a better account of forgetting than more traditional competition-based theories. We discuss the explanations that have been proposed to account for retrieval induced forgetting, the think/no-think paradigm, directed forgetting, the part-list cuing effect, output interference and list-strength effects. We conclude that the theoretical status of inhibition as an explanation for interference and forgetting is problematic. We show that the claim that these findings cannot be explained by standard competition-based accounts is incorrect.
TL;DR: The results suggest that saving provides a means to strategically off-load memory onto the environment in order to reduce the extent to which currently unneeded to-be-remembered information interferes with the learning and remembering of other information.
Abstract: With the continued integration of technology into people's lives, saving digital information has become an everyday facet of human behavior. In the present research, we examined the consequences of saving certain information on the ability to learn and remember other information. Results from three experiments showed that saving one file before studying a new file significantly improved memory for the contents of the new file. Notably, this effect was not observed when the saving process was deemed unreliable or when the contents of the to-be-saved file were not substantial enough to interfere with memory for the new file. These results suggest that saving provides a means to strategically off-load memory onto the environment in order to reduce the extent to which currently unneeded to-be-remembered information interferes with the learning and remembering of other information.
TL;DR: A core discovery concerns the role of the prefrontal cortex in exerting top-down control over mnemonic activity in the hippocampus and other brain structures, often via inhibitory control.
Abstract: Over the past century, psychologists have discussed whether forgetting might arise from active mechanisms that promote memory loss to achieve various functions, such as minimizing errors, facilitating learning, or regulating one's emotional state. The past decade has witnessed a great expansion in knowledge about the brain mechanisms underlying active forgetting in its varying forms. A core discovery concerns the role of the prefrontal cortex in exerting top-down control over mnemonic activity in the hippocampus and other brain structures, often via inhibitory control. New findings reveal that such processes not only induce forgetting of specific memories but also can suppress the operation of mnemonic processes more broadly, triggering windows of anterograde and retrograde amnesia in healthy people. Recent work extends active forgetting to nonhuman animals, presaging the development of a multilevel mechanistic account that spans the cognitive, systems, network, and even cellular levels. This work reveals how organisms adapt their memories to their cognitive and emotional goals and has implications for understanding vulnerability to psychiatric disorders.
TL;DR: Results of two experiments support a context-change account of the amnesic effects of daydreaming, which suggests that daydreams that are more different from the current moment will result in more forgetting than daydreamed that are less different fromThe current moment.
Abstract: Daydreaming mentally transports people to another place or time. Many daydreams are similar in content to the thoughts that people generate when they intentionally try to forget. Thus, thoughts like those generated during daydreaming can cause forgetting of previously encoded events. We conducted two experiments to test the hypothesis that daydreams that are more different from the current moment (e.g., in distance, time, or circumstance) will result in more forgetting than daydreams that are less different from the current moment, because they result in a greater contextual shift. Daydreaming was simulated in the laboratory via instructions to engage in a diversionary thought. Participants learned a list of words, were asked to think about autobiographical memories, and then learned a second list of words. They tended to forget more words from the first list when they thought about their parents' home than when they thought about their current home (Experiment 1). They also tended to forget more when they thought about an international vacation than when they thought about a domestic vacation (Experiment 2). These results support a context-change account of the amnesic effects of daydreaming.