Fading Mnemonic Memories: Here's Looking Anew, Again!

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Associative mnemonic benefits on delayed memory tests have been questioned—especially in the absence of an immediate test (e.g., Wang & Thomas, 1995). In this regard, we recently described a series of experiments that placed delayed mnemonic performance in a more favorable light (Carney & Levin, 1998). Despite the positive findings, a nonstatistically steeper rate of forgetting was observed for mnemonic participants, which led us to search for additional decay-preventive measures. One such measure might be to provide actual pictures of mnemonic interactions rather than just verbal descriptions of them. To test this hypothesis, we assigned undergraduates to one of three conditions to study a set of artists and their paintings: own best method, verbal mnemonic, and pictorial mnemonic. Following study of over 24 paintings, students in the two mnemonic conditions outperformed those in the control condition on both immediate and delayed tests. Further, and in line with our expectation, pictorial mnemonic students exhibited a statistically lower rate of forgetting compared to control students.

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Carney, Russell N., and Joel R. Levin. "Fading mnemonic memories: Here's looking anew, again!." Contemporary educational psychology 25, no. 4 (2000): 499-508.

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