The Role of Inhibitory Control in Forgetting Semantic Knowledge.

S K Johnson, Michael Christopher Anderson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

92 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Previous research has shown that episodic retrieval recruits inhibitory processes that impair memory for related events. We report two experiments examining whether inhibitory processes may also be involved in causing semantic memory lapses. In a semantic retrieval-practice paradigm, subjects were given trials presenting a cue (a homograph in Experiment 1, a category in Experiment 2) linked to many different items in semantic memory. For each cue, subjects used general knowledge to generate no (baseline), one, four, or eight different items of semantic knowledge. Afterward, we determined through an apparently unrelated free-association test whether a critical nonpracticed concept associated to the cue had been inhibited. Both experiments found that generating items from semantic memory suppressed competing concepts, and that this impairment was cue independent. These findings show that inhibitory control processes overcome interference during semantic retrieval and that recruitment of these processes may contribute to semantic forgetting.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)448-453
Number of pages6
JournalPsychological Science
Volume15
Issue number7
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2004

Keywords

  • LEFT PREFRONTAL CORTEX
  • MEMORY RETRIEVAL
  • GENERATION
  • RECALL
  • NORMS
  • REPETITION
  • MECHANISMS
  • SEARCH
  • WORDS

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