Retrieval induced forgetting
So you would think that if you learnt a list of 6 fruit names that when you got asked a question i.e. name six fruit that all these fruit would come to the forefront of your memory. And you would be right. However, if you had been exposed to a number of recall exercises in which you had to name a fruit that started with ‘OR…….’ you would probably name orange from your list. This is all fine until you are retested to name a list of fruit and those people that were exposed to a revision ‘bias’ (focussing on only certain fruit during recall and not the entire list) found an even greater difficulty in recalling the other fruit. It is theorised that this retrieval induced forgetting occurs due to an inhibitory process in our memory. It seems to only occur when memories are competing for the same cue i.e. orange in the example above when asked to name a list of fruit.
So what does this all mean? Its important to understand that our memories compete but also that we will retrieve this information more effectively if we learn the information in different contexts and also via spaced learning as discussed in our blog on Bjork’s New Theory of Disuse (How I learn to love forgetting)