Standard context-dependent memory studies have shown that when information is encoded in a certain environmental context (EG), recall performance is weakened when retrieval occurs in a different, rather than the same, EG. Here, we show that this context-dependent forgetting can be eliminated using mental imagery at encoding. In two studies, participants used mental visualization of the retrieval EG during the encoding process. The results of the first study highlighted the importance of context familiarity. When familiarity was controlled in the second study, users of the mental visualization technique who encoded and retrieved in different EGs showed no context-dependent forgetting as compared with participants who encoded and retrieved in the same EG. These findings suggest that information can become linked with mental images of EGs such that the physical instantiation of an imagined EG can function as effectively as physical EG reinstatement and eliminate context-dependent forgetting.
Chu, Simon; Handley, Victoria; and Cooper, Simon R.
"Eliminating Context-Dependent Forgetting: Changing Contexts Can Be as Effective as Reinstating Them,"
The Psychological Record:
4, Article 3.
Available at: http://opensiuc.lib.siu.edu/tpr/vol53/iss4/3