Failure to observe renewal following retrieval-induced forgetting

Gonzalo Miguez, Lisa E. Mash, Cody W. Polack, Ralph R. Miller*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Scopus citations


Recent studies have pursued the nature of inhibition observed in retrieval-induced forgetting (RIF) tasks. In a RIF paradigm, participants are trained on category-exemplar pairs in Phase 1. Then, some exemplars from select categories (Rp+ items) receive further practice in Phase 2. At test, impaired recall for non-practiced exemplars of the practiced categories (Rp- items) is observed relative to exemplars from non-practiced categories (Nrp items). This difference constitutes RIF. Prior reports of spontaneous recovery from RIF indicate that RIF represents a lapse rather than a loss of memory. Empirical analogs and theoretical considerations suggest that RIF should also be reversible through a change of context between Phase 2 and testing (i.e., renewal). We conducted two experiments using human participants to evaluate the context dependency of RIF. In both experiments, Phases 1 and 2 occurred in distinctly different contexts with subsequent testing occurring in either the Phase 1 context or the Phase 2 context. RIF was observed in both experiments. Experiment 1 additionally found that the magnitude of RIF was not reduced by testing in the Phase 1 context relative to testing in the Phase 2 context. Experiment 2 further tested context dependency of RIF by (1) increasing the dissimilarity between the two contexts and (2) inserting a retention interval between Phase 2 and test for half of the participants in each test context condition. The data again indicated no effect of the context manipulation. Thus, no renewal from RIF was observed in either experiment; moreover, these null findings were supported by Bayesian analyses. These results are compared with analogous inhibitory processes in the animal memory literature that typically show both physical and temporal context dependency.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)43-51
Number of pages9
JournalBehavioural Processes
StatePublished - Mar 2014


  • Inhibition
  • Renewal
  • Retrieval induced forgetting
  • Spontaneous recovery

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Animal Science and Zoology
  • Behavioral Neuroscience


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