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Design If the context change theory explains directed forgetting, children should have no problem intentionally forgetting objects through a mental context.

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Presentation on theme: "Design If the context change theory explains directed forgetting, children should have no problem intentionally forgetting objects through a mental context."— Presentation transcript:

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2 Design If the context change theory explains directed forgetting, children should have no problem intentionally forgetting objects through a mental context change. If DF is due to inhibition, then young children should not show DF effects due to the late development of inhibitory processes (prefrontal cortex). Introduction Memory is not only forgotten unintentionally, but can also be intentionally forgotten. Previous directed forgetting studies have shown that adults display robust directed forgetting effects: impaired recall for list 1 (costs) and enhanced recall for list 2 (benefits) (e.g., Bjork, 1989). DIRECTED FORGETTING IN CHILDREN? Harnishfeger and Pope (1996) failed to show the costs or benefits of directed forgetting in kindergarteners. Overall recall for the word lists was very low. Researchers have hypothesized that the lack of DF effects in young children may be due to later-developing brain processes essential for inhibitory processes or a production deficiency stage. The present study aimed to examine if preschoolers can in fact show directed forgetting effects using concrete objects and clear instructions. Directed Forgetting in Preschoolers: Comparisons between retrieval inhibition and context change models Victoria Shiebler, Advisor: Almut Hupbach Department of Psychology, Lehigh University Experimental Group PART 1CUEPART 2PART 3 Mechanistic Forget Cue N=17 4&5-yr-olds Learn Set 1 Please empty your brain to make space for the second set of objects. Learn Set 2, distract task Recall task of all 16 objects Animal Name Memory Task Context Change N=18 4&5-yr-olds Please describe your favorite toy in detail Remember N=15 4&5-yr-olds Both sets of objects will be important for the end of the memory game Results Children in both, the forget cue and the context change group showed both costs and benefits of directed forgetting. Impaired Recall of Set 1 Enhanced Recall of Set 2 Memory performance for sets of objects was not related to working memory task. Distractor Task: What is your favorite food/ what are you having for lunch today? Animal Name Working Memory Task:  Repeat increasing number of animal name spans  Children given points for each correct span Directed Forgetting Paradigm List 1 Forget/ Remember List 2 Recall List 1 List 2 Manipulations that cause forgetting/mental context change Instruction to forget Imagine being invisible Daydreaming Retrieval of prior List Chatting, wiping computer monitor L1 L2 Retrieval One way to change memory is through the method of directed forgetting which may be explained by two competing theories: retrieval inhibition (e.g., Bjork, 1972) and the context change model (Sahaykyan and Kelley, 2002) Discussion Preschoolers ages 4 and 5 can in fact display directed forgetting effects. Concrete objects and clear instructions improved baseline memory for objects, which allowed us to properly assess directed forgetting costs and benefits. Regardless of instruction, children remembered list 2 items better than list 1 items due to a recency effect, which could be eliminated in future studies with a longer experiment period. Directed forgetting is mediated by context change because preschoolers displayed effects although their memory suppressing mechanisms are not fully developed. Both the forget in instruction as well as the context change instruction induced a mental context change, which created a mismatch between list 1 learning and recall (Sahakyan and Kelley, 2002). Since working memory and directed forgetting effects were not correlated in this study, directed forgetting does not rely on working memory brain structures. This provides more evidence for the fact that directed forgetting is mediated by a mental context change. Retrieval Inhibition vs. Context Change References Aslan, A., & Bäuml, K. (2008). Memorial consequences of imagination of children and adults. Psychodynamic Bulletin and Review, 15(4), Aslan, A., Zellner, M., & Bäuml, K. (2010). Working memory capacity predicts listwise directed forgetting in adults and children. Psychology Press, 18(4), Basden, B., & Basden, D. (1996). Directed forgetting: Further comparison of the item and list methods. Memory, 6(4), Bjork, R. A. (1989). Retrieval inhibition as an adaptive mechanism in human memory. In H. L.Roediger III & F. I. M. Craik (Eds.), Varieties of memory & consciousness. Harnishfeger, K., & Pope, R. (1996). Intending to forget: The development of cognitive inhibition in directed forgetting. Journal of Experimental Child Psychology, 62, Howe, M. (2005). Children (but not adults) can inhibit false memories. Psychological Science, 16(12), Sahakyan, L., & Kelley, C. (2002). A contextual change account of the directed forgetting effect. Journal of Experimental Psychology, 28(6),


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