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3 Tutorials that teach Memory Interference
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Memory Interference

Memory Interference

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Description:

This lesson will define interference and distinguish retroactive interference from proactive interference in learning. Also examined are the roles of repression, suppression, and consolidation in memory.

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Tutorial

What's Covered

This lesson is going to look at reason we are unable to retrieve a memory by covering:

  1. Interrupted Consolidation
  2. Suppression and Repression

1. Interrupted Consolidation

Consolidation of memory involves forming a permanent long term memory. Memory is formed through a process of encoding, storage, and later retrieval. Encoding is the first part of forming of that solid long term memory.

Term to Know

  • Consolidation
  • The process of forming permanent, long-term memories.

If a memory is not available to, then it wasn’t encoded or stored properly. It will not be available at all; consolidation has been interrupted. If a memory is not accessible, it can still be available. A person can still have it consolidated in their memory, but there's a problem with actually retrieving that memory.

One of the reasons that someone can have trouble retrieving a memory is that there's some kind of interference. Interference means when a new or old memory compete with each other and make it difficult for you to remember that kind of information.

Term to Know

  • Interference
  • When new and old memories compete with each other and make it difficult to remember.

There are two different types of interference:

  • Proactive interference-when old memories interfere with the retrieval of new memories.

    ExampleYou can't remember a new phone number that you've just learned because it's too similar to your old childhood phone number.

  • Retroactive interference-new memories interfere with the retrieval of old memories.
  • Example You may have trouble remembering the name of someone at a party from before, because you just met a brand new group of people at a party that you're at now. 

Interference is a way that a person can unintentionally affect the retrieval of memories. Memories can also be intentionally forgot either consciously or unconsciously. This is a way a person protects themselves from psychological harm. This may be especially true to memories that are unpleasant or uncomfortable for a person.


2. Suppression and Repression

Suppression is a way a person intentionally and consciously attempts to forget a memory that they might have.

ExampleA family member brings up something that makes you angry while you're in public, you can intentionally choose to either ignore or forget that memory to avoid a scene. This lets you revisit situation later at a more appropriate time.

Term to Know

  • Suppression
  • Consciously attempting to forget a memory.

Repression is unconsciously forgetting some kind of unpleasant memory.

ExampleER surgeons can repress particularly bad memories of things they saw while they're working like horrific accidents or traumatic stories that they might have encountered.

Term to Know

  • Repression
  • Unconsciously forgetting a usually unpleasant memory.

It's important to note that this can lead to all kinds of harmful psychological effects on its own, according to psychodynamic theories. While repression might be necessary in certain instances, it can also lead to effects in its own right.


Summary

Today's lesson has been on a brief overview of memory interference. A person might not be able to retrieve a memory if they have experienced interrupted consolidation. If there is an issue with coding or storing, than the memory will not be available at all. 

Sometimes there is interference with the retrieval process, but the memory is still there. A memory can be forgot either consciously or unconsciously through suppression. Suppression is pushing an unpleasant thought or emotion from your mind until there is a more appropriate time to deal with it. On the other hand, repression is unconscious and can cause psychological harm according to psychodynamic theorists.

Keep up the learning and have a great day!

Source: This work is adapted from Sophia author Erick Taggart.

TERMS TO KNOW
  • Consolidation

    The process of forming permanent, long-term memories.

  • Interference

    When new and old memories compete with each other and make it difficult to remember.

  • Suppression

    Consciously attempting to forget a memory.

  • Repression

    Unconsciously forgetting a usually unpleasant memory.