Language-dependent recall of autobiographical memories

Viorica Marian*, Ulric Neisser

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

260 Scopus citations


Two studies of autobiographical memory explored the hypothesis that memories become more accessible when the linguistic environment at retrieval matches the linguistic environment at encoding. In Experiment 1, Russian-English bilinguals were asked to recall specific life experiences in response to word prompts. The results supported the hypothesis of language-dependent recall: Participants retrieved more experiences from the Russian-speaking period of their lives when interviewed in Russian and more experiences from the English-speaking period of their lives when interviewed in English. In Experiment 2, the language of the interview was varied independently from the language of the word prompts. Both variables were found to influence autobiographical recall. These findings show that language at the time of retrieval, like other forms of context, plays a significant role in determining what will be remembered.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)361-368
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Experimental Psychology: General
Issue number3
StatePublished - Sep 2000

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
  • General Psychology
  • Developmental Neuroscience


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