The vast majority of the projects being done in the Memory Lab are focused on various aspects of event cognition and how they impact human memory. Specifically, we are interested in how the structure of events, both real and vicarious, influence the ease with which information is comprehended, learned, and remembered.
Walking Through Doorways Causes Forgetting
In this project, people move from one location to another, moving objects either across a large room or from one room to the next. What we have found is that passing through a doorway disrupts memory for a variety of information including both memory for the objects being carried as well as for pairs of words. This work has also been extended to smaller screens and real world environments. We are currently exploring the degree to which this phenomenon extends to computer windows as well as doorways.
Prospective memory is when people remember to do things in the future, such as going to an appointment at 3:00 tomorrow afternoon. People usually test prospective memory performance by using time-based cues (such as in the previous example) or event-based cues (such as giving a message to a friend the next time you see him). We are currently testing an unexplored type of prospective memory, which we call location-based, to assess how spatial location may influence the way people remember prospectively.
Memory Retention and Consolidation
A series of projects is underway that assess the long-term retention functions that are observed across a variety of stimuli, encoding, and retrieval conditions. These data will be interpreted in light of consolidation theory and formal memory models. This research is finding that the classic Ebbinghaus forgetting curve is not as universal as some people have suggested. For example, we have found that there is a shift in the rate of forgetting around seven days, and some forgetting curves are linear (increasing proportion loss over log time), rather than power functions (constant proportion loss over log time).
Retraction and Memory
One project involves assessing memory for information that has been marked as incorrect and retracted. This work has found that a sizable proportion of times that retracted information is used, it is because readers choose to not believe or accept the retraction. We are exploring various factor that can contribute to this finding, and we hope to assess how retraction and memory performance changes over time.
Cognitive Control and Event Structure
In collaboration with Jason Reimer at CSU, San Bernardino, we are exploring the influence of event structure on cognitive control. In our previous work, we have found that the structure of events during a typical AX_CPT task can be made easier or harder depending on whether items are part of a single or multiple events. Current work is also exploring how event structure influences whether people adopt a proactive or retroactive control posture.
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