May 9, 2021

Selective remembering: Cue overlap enables pre-retrieval control of recollection

Abstract People often want to recall only currently relevant events, but this selective remembering is not always possible. We contrasted two candidate mechanisms: the overlap between retrieval cues and stored memory traces, and the ease of recollection. In two preregistered experiments (Ns = 28) we quantified recollection of targeted over non-targeted information using event-related potentials (ERPs). Participants viewed objects or heard object names, and one of these sources was designated as targets in each memory test. We manipulated cue overlap by probing memory with visual names (Experiment 1) or line drawings (Experiment 2). Results revealed that regardless of which source was targeted, the left parietal ERP effect was selective when test cues overlapped more with targeted than non-targeted information, despite consistently better memory for pictures. The data support the view that selection can act prior to recollection if there is sufficient overlap between retrieval cues and targeted versus competing memory traces. Keywords: Proactive control, ERPs, Episodic Memory, Recollection, Retrieval Orientation

 bioRxiv Subject Collection: Neuroscience

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