Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)




Amy Criss


cued recall;episodic memory;interference;list discrimination

Subject Categories

Cognitive Psychology | Psychology | Social and Behavioral Sciences


Confusion of older information with newer information is a potent source of memory errors. For example, remembering exactly where you parked in a parking garage can be difficult, if it somewhere you frequently park. The reason for the difficulty is because the older memories for parking the garage are easily confused with the most recent one. The current project focused on understanding how memories for recent experiences interact, or interferes, with other related information. In a typical memory interference experiment participants study multiple lists of pairs of items. Items from an initial study list (e.g., A-B) reappear on a second study list paired with new, other items (e.g., A-Br). Performance for A-Br pairs is contrasted with control pairs exclusive to the second study list (e.g., A-B, C-D). In the current series of experiments we used such a paradigm to examine a phenomena called proactive facilitation (PF). This is the observation that the memory for a second presentation of a target (Br) is better when cued by its partner (A) despite being studied with a different partner during its initial presentation. This contrasts proactive interference (PI), a common finding that oftentimes memory is worse in the very same scenario. Indeed a combination of PF and PI appear to be present during recall. When Aue, Criss, and Fischetti (2012) employed such a design they observed PI evidenced by more incorrect responses for A-Br pairs, as well as PF evidenced by more correct responses for A-Br pairs relative to C-D pairs. They proposed multiple explanations for PF and a subset are evaluated in the current series of experiments. I examined three hypotheses in an attempt to understand PF. First, I examined whether it is the case that, in the aforementioned design, participants were more willing to provide a response for A-Br pairs and they simply happen to be outputting both more correct (PF) and incorrect (PI) responses. Second I examined whether participants were spending more time searching memory, resulting in the additional responses being provided. Third, I examined whether participants were encoding the items better the second time they are encountered. In general the data appear to be most consistent with the idea that a portion of items, when encountered a second time, are encoded more completely. Implications for models of memory are discussed.


Open Access