Dynamic memory searches: Selective output interference for the memory of facts

William Aue, Amy Criss, Melissa Prince

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    6 Citations (Scopus)


    The benefits of testing on later memory performance are well documented; however, the manner in which testing harms memory performance is less well understood. This research is concerned with the finding that accuracy decreases over the course of testing, a phenomena termed “output interference” (OI). OI has primarily been investigated with episodic memory, but there is limited research investigating OI in measures of semantic memory (i.e., knowledge). In the current study, participants were twice tested for their knowledge of factual questions; they received corrective feedback during the first test. No OI was observed during the first test, when participants presumably searched semantic memory to answer the general-knowledge questions. During the second test, OI was observed. Conditional analyses of Test 2 performance revealed that OI was largely isolated to questions answered incorrectly during Test 1. These were questions for which participants needed to rely on recent experience (i.e., the feedback in episodic memory) to respond correctly. One possible explanation is that episodic memory is more susceptible to the sort of interference generated during testing (e.g., gradual changes in context, encoding/updating of items) relative to semantic memory. Alternative explanations are considered.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)1798-1806
    Number of pages9
    JournalPsychonomic Bulletin and Review
    Issue number6
    Publication statusPublished - 1 Dec 2015


    • Interference
    • Knowledge
    • Recognition
    • Testing


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