Competition and forgetting during context-based episodic memory retrieval
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Recent memory models highlight the importance of contextual information for remembering episodic events. A consequence of binding event memories with their context is that contextually related memories can interfere with the retrieval of targeted memories, leading to retrieval induced forgetting (RIF) of the competing memories (Anderson et al., 2000). A model built to explain this effect describes a nonmonotonic “U shaped” relationship between memory activation and changes in memory strength (Norman et al., 2007). Specifically, competing memories that activate to a moderate degree (vs. low or high activation) are more likely to be weakened and forgotten. However, the factors governing whether and how memories will activate and compete during retrieval are not well understood. Here, we test the hypothesis that events experienced closer in time will be more likely to compete during memory retrieval, leading to RIF.