September 2019
Volume 19, Issue 10
Open Access
Vision Sciences Society Annual Meeting Abstract  |   September 2019
Unintentional forgetting is beyond cognitive control
Author Affiliations & Notes
  • Emma Megla
    The Ohio State University
  • Bernadette Dezso
    The Ohio State University
  • Ashleigh M Maxcey
    The Ohio State University
Journal of Vision September 2019, Vol.19, 39c. doi:
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      Emma Megla, Bernadette Dezso, Ashleigh M Maxcey; Unintentional forgetting is beyond cognitive control. Journal of Vision 2019;19(10):39c.

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      © ARVO (1962-2015); The Authors (2016-present)

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Intentional forgetting refers to the attempt to marshal top-down control to purposefully forget, and has been demonstrated in the laboratory using directed forgetting paradigms. Here we asked whether the mechanisms of top-down control can run in the opposite direction to prevent the forgetting of information. That is, can we actively resist unintentional forgetting. Recognition-induced forgetting is an unintentional forgetting effect in which accessing one memory leads to the forgetting of related memories. We showed subjects a ten-minute video to teach them about the recognition-induced forgetting paradigm and how recognition of certain objects unintentionally leads to forgetting of semantically related objects. After testing their comprehension of the video, we conducted a typical recognition-induced forgetting experiment and challenged the subjects to resist this form of unintentional forgetting. Despite their knowledge of the forgetting effect, and the challenge to subjects to resist the forgetting induced by the paradigm, recognition-induced forgetting persisted. We found that a minority of subjects were able to resist the forgetting effect but this resistance was not enough to eliminate the effect when averaging across subjects. These results show that knowledge of this unintentional forgetting phenomenon and the challenge to resist forgetting do not eliminate it, suggesting that it is cognitively impenetrable.


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