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Explain two theories of forgetting

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Psychology h/w Mr Edwards 07/11/04 1.Explain two theories of forgetting Retrieval failure is the failure to find an item of information because we have insufficient clues or cues. The context where initial learning takes place or the mood we were in may act as a cue later. Lack of these cues will lead to greater forgetting. Interference refers to the tendency for one memory to 'interfere with' accurate retrieval of another memory. Proactive interference is when the past material interferes with attempts to learn similar new material, causing us to forget new material. Retroactive interference is when current learning interferes with material already learned, causing is to forget the material already learned. In order to prevent forgetting it is important to consider why forgetting occurs The most frequent reason for forgetting information is difficulty in transferring it from working memory to long-term memory. ...read more.


There are two types of interference, proactive and retro active. PI is when past learning interferes with current attempts to learn something. RI is when current attempts to learn something interfere with past learning. Support for interference theory comes form Jenkins and Dallenbach (1924), who found that after learning lists of nonsense syllables, participants ' recall was much better when intervening time had been filled primarily with sleep rather than a comparable period of being awake. However, Tulving and Pstoka(1971) found that when participants in a memory test were given cued recall the previous effects of interference disappeared. This shows that interference effects may simply mask what is actually in memory, i.e the information is there but cannot be retrieved. ...read more.


Only 40 of 520 patients could retrieve real memories and most of these resembled dreams rather than memories. The third theory which explains forgetting is cue-dependent forgetting, this is when information may be stored in memory but may be inaccessible unless there is a specific cut to help retrieve it. Some psychologists believe that all forgetting is cue-dependent forgetting. Michael Eysenck (1988) says 'it is probable that this is the main reason for forgetting in LTM'. There is a considerable amount of research to show the importance of cues and how they trigger memory. As we have seen, retrieval is best when conditions during recall match those during original learning. The encoding specificity principle further states that a cue doesn't have to be exactly right, but the closer the cue is to the thing you're looking for, the more useful it will be. ...read more.

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