The Level of Processing Affects the Magnitude of Induced Retrograde Amnesia

Vencislav PopovNew Bulgarian University
Georgi PetkovNew Bulgarian University

Abstract

If a distinctive event is amid other, non-distinctive events, often the memory for the item that immediately precedes the distinctive one is severely impaired. One explanation is that memory for the preceding items is reduced because when the priority item is detected, all attentional resources are directed to it, and the encoding of the preceding item is prematurely disrupted. Because perceptually defined priority is detected earlier in time, compared to semantically defined priority, the encoding of the preceding item should be disrupted at an earlier stage, and the impairment should be greater. An experiment confirmed this prediction by showing that retrograde amnesia was present when participants had to preferentially remember the word written in capital letters (RABBIT), but not when the priority item was defined by being a kind of animal (rabbit). These results can explain the reason behind recent failed replications and they provide evidence for the encoding hypothesis.

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