ISSN 0439-755X
CN 11-1911/B

Acta Psychologica Sinica ›› 2020, Vol. 52 ›› Issue (5): 572-583.doi: 10.3724/SP.J.1041.2020.00572

• Reports of Empirical Studies • Previous Articles     Next Articles

The effects of retrieval interference on different types of implicit memory

HUANG Fajie,MENG Yingfang(),YAN Ying   

  1. School of Psychology, Fujian Normal University, Fuzhou 350117, China
  • Received:2019-09-09 Online:2020-05-25 Published:2020-03-26
  • Contact: Yingfang MENG


According to traditional automation theory, an automatic process should be "purely unconscious", independent of limited attention resources, and executed at the same time as other processing tasks without interference. Implicit memory is considered to be a tool that provides unconscious and automatic cognitive processes and that is not be affected by any type of attention resource. Memory includes two important links: coding and retrieval. Coding is mainly responsible for the preliminary processing of information and the generation of memory traces. Retrieval promotes or suppresses the connection of these memory representations after coding.
Previous studies have mostly discussed the effect of interference on implicit memory from the point of view of coding and considered that implicit memory tests are immune to coding interference. However, there are doubts about whether the interference in the retrieval stage will affect the implicit memory, and more importantly, it is not known whether this difference is caused by the different types of memory tests. Because of the intersection between the types of implicit memory tests, this study involves four experiments. The effects of retrieval interference on an identification-perceptual implicit test, an identification-conceptual implicit test, a production-perception implicit test and a production-concept implicit test were investigated.
In this study, two new production tasks were designed. The learning-test paradigm was used to explore the relationship between retrieval interference and different types of implicit memory by setting up digital interference tasks at the same time in the retrieval stage of the test. The results showed that (1) under the condition of no interference, both the lexical judgement task (identification-perceptual test) and semantic classification task (identification-conceptual) display a significant priming effect, and under the condition of interference, the priming effect of the two types of tasks disappears. (2) Under the condition of no interference, both the production lexical judgement task (production-perceptual test) and the production semantic classification task (production-conceptual test) show obvious priming effects; however, under interference conditions, the two kinds of production judgements still have obvious priming effects. Because of the priming effect for both interference conditions, we performed repeated 2 (with or without interference) × 2 (processing level) analysis of variance tests for the priming amounts (reaction time and ACs) of the two production experiments to determine whether interference would influence the priming effect. The results showed that the priming amounts of the two experiments under interference conditions were significantly lower than those under noninterference conditions. Therefore, compared with those for noninterference conditions, the priming effects of the two implicit identification tests disappeared under retrieval interference. Although the priming effects of the two implicit production memory tasks significantly decreased, there was still a significant priming effect.
In conclusion, the retrieval processing of different types of implicit memory tests is affected by interference, and unconscious memory retrieval processing is not completely automated processing but is also regulated by attention resources. Identified implicit memory is more easily affected by retrieval interference than productive implicit memory. Under retrieval interference, there is a separation of the identified implicit memory and production implicit memory, and identified priming is more easily affected by retrieval interference than is productive priming.

Key words: implicit memory, retrieval interference, identification memory, production memory, perceptual priming, conceptual memory

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