Recall-induced Forgetting and Intelligent Review

Suppose you could capture and process a synopsis of your day into an edited summary that you reviewed each night?

In Recall, we envisage an future in which technology can be used to help individuals actively maintain their memories through the review of recent experiences. For example, mobile devices, TV screens, heads-up displays and projectors could all be used as mechanisms for showing an “intelligent review” that summarised key events through video, email snippets, calendar events etc.

Recall researchers Geoff Ward and Caterina Cinel are beginning work on the intelligent review function of RECALL. What might we expect the mnemonic consequences to be of watching your daily synopsis on your later spontaneous ability to recall events from that day? Based on the laboratory phenomenon of retrieval–induced forgetting (RIF, see April 2014 post), one might expect increased access to the revised material but decreased access to related but not practiced events.

Using laboratory-based stimuli, we have found the standard RIF effects: retrieval practice for the revised material, retrieval –induced forgetting for the related but unpractised stimuli. However, we have made two discoveries this month: (1) simply repeating the revised material more times further increases the probability of those items being later remembered but these extra repetitions do not induce even more RIF, and (2) increasing the number of different items that are revised not only increases the probability of those items being later remembered but also these extra retrievals induce even more RIF on those items that were not practiced. In a nutshell, if you want to forget a particular something, try testing yourself on as many different but related items as you can!

We’ve been contacted by Prof. Narinder Kapur (University College, London) over the summer – check out his Cogassist website – it is a really useful resource for that may help professionals who use technology to assist individuals who have cognitive limitations.

You may also be interested in this recent research into wearable computing and privacy conducted by Dr Tom Foulsham here at Essex who shows how we may behave differently when under surveillance (with a Google glass angle). Apparently, when distracted, we can forget that we are under surveillance and so reveal our less inhibited behaviours!