Attempts to Suppress Episodic Memories Fail but do Produce Demand: Evidence from the P300-Based Complex Trial Protocol and an Implicit Memory Test

Anne C. Ward, J. Peter Rosenfeld*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

9 Scopus citations

Abstract

Instructions to voluntarily suppress memories of a mock crime have been reported to result in decreased P300 amplitude during a P300-based concealed information test (CIT) and reduced autobiographical Implicit Association Test (aIAT) D scores, supporting successful suppression. However, one such study, (Hu et al., Psychological science 26(7):1098–1106, 2015) used the P300-based Complex Trial Protocol with a 50–50 target to nontarget ratio, which could impose much response switching and thereby drain cognitive resources, also resulting in reduced P300. The present study replicated Hu et al. (Psychological science 26(7):1098–1106, 2015) with one major variation—a less intrusive 20–80 target to nontarget ratio that required less response switching. Detection rates were high using both the brainwave-based CIT (90% accuracy) and the aIAT (87% accuracy). However we found no significant differences between the suppression and simple guilty groups on the major indices of concealed information detection, which compare probe and irrelevant P300 responses. While we did find that overall P300 amplitude was reduced in the suppression group, this reduction was not specific to probe responses. Additionally, while there were group differences in aIAT hit rates, there were no differences in aIAT D scores. Taken together, these findings suggest that the previously demonstrated reductions in P300 are a reflection of task demand rather than of effective voluntary memory suppression.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)13-26
Number of pages14
JournalApplied Psychophysiology Biofeedback
Volume42
Issue number1
DOIs
StatePublished - Mar 1 2017

Keywords

  • Concealed information test
  • Memory suppression
  • P300

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuropsychology and Physiological Psychology
  • Applied Psychology

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