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Paul S. Scotti, Ashleigh M. Maxcey; Directed forgetting of pictures of everyday objects. Journal of Vision 2022;22(10):8. doi: https://doi.org/10.1167/jov.22.10.8.
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© ARVO (1962-2015); The Authors (2016-present)
Directed forgetting is a laboratory task in which subjects are explicitly cued to forget certain items and remember others. Volitional control over the contents of memory has been used to study clinical disorders, with successful intentional control of memory being a hallmark of a healthy mind. Yet the degree of volitional forgetting over the content of visual long-term memory is unclear when compared to words. Different kinds of visual stimuli (e.g., abstract symbols, line drawings, scenes) may not equally be susceptible to voluntary control in memory, and intentional forgetting studies have shown both twice as much forgetting of pictures compared to words (think/no-think task) and half as much forgetting of pictures compared to words (directed forgetting task). In the present study, we systematically test volitional control over pictures of everyday objects using item-method directed forgetting procedures. We find that subjects are able to intentionally prioritize memory for pictures cued as to be remembered over pictures cued to be forgotten. Here we show that directed forgetting effects are observed using pictures of everyday objects (albeit to a weaker extent compared to directed forgetting of words), suggesting increased confidence for generalization of directed forgetting literature to real-world applications. However, we caution clinical applications of intentional memory control until the underlying direction causing this effect (upregulation of remember-cued items or downregulation of forget-cued items) is known.
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