Retrieval-induced forgetting of autobiographical memory details

I. Wessel*, B.J.A. Hauer

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


Several studies suggest that intrusive and over general autobiographical memory are correlated. Thus, paradoxically, in some patients a hyper accessibility of memory for one (series of) event(s) goes hand-in-hand with a scarcity of memories for other personal experienes. This clinical observation is reminiscent of the laboratory phenomenon of retrieval-induced forgetting (RIF). This refers to the finding that repeatedly recalling some experimental stimuli impairs subsequent recall of related (i.e., tied to the same retrieval cue) stimuli. RIF of emotional autobiographical memories might provide an experimental model for the clinical memory phenomena in question. The present paper reports two experiments that explored the merits of applying the retrieval practice paradigm to relatively broad categories of autobiographical memories. Both studies found a significant RIF effect in that practised memories were recalled better than unrelated unpractised (baseline) memories. In addition, unpractised memories that were related to the practised memories were recalled more poorly than baseline memories. Implications of these findings for modelling the co-occurrence of intrusive and over-general memories are discussed.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)430-447
JournalCognition & Emotion
Issue number3-4
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2006


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