Human cognitive neuroscience seminar

Speaker: Jamie McGhee (PhD Candidate in Psychology, The University of Edinburgh)

Title: Exploring factors affecting magnitude of minimal interference benefits to long-term memory retention

Abstract: Periods of wakeful rest immediately preceding or following new learning can result in boosts to long-term memory retention. These benefits have been attributed to the minimization of interference which disrupts processes deemed crucial to successful remembering. Theoretical accounts diverge in the processes they believe are deeply rooted in forgetting (i.e. consolidation, retrieval) and the possible underlying mechanisms which result in their disruption (i.e. division of consolidative resources, temporal indistinctiveness at retrieval). Studies assessing the benefits of minimizing both interference encountered before (proactive interference) and after new learning (retroactive interference) attempt to establish which theory provides a more encompassing account of forgetting. However, in doing so, such studies have inadvertently highlighted factors which may affect the degree to which minimal interference benefits can be observed.

In this talk, I will explore three studies where such factors have been uncovered. We will see that the nature of the to-be-retained material may determine the ability for participants to overcome interference. We will also see that experimental designs may uniquely inflate certain minimal interference benefits, distorting our views on which theories appear more accountable. Ultimately, this talk will illustrate the volatile nature of observing minimal interference benefits in healthy adult populations and the critical implications this may have for investigating forgetting overall.


The seminars are organised by the Human Cognitive Neuroscience research group. For further information, or if you would like to join the e-mail list for these seminars, please email Andreea Stamate or Carolane Hélin.

Human cognitive neuroscience

Andreea Stamate

Carolane Hélin

Feb 13 2019 -

Human cognitive neuroscience seminar

2019-02-13: Exploring factors affecting magnitude of minimal interference benefits to long-term memory retention

Lecture Theatre F21, Psychology Building, 7 George Square, Edinburgh, EH8 9JZ