ISSN 1671-3710
CN 11-4766/R

Advances in Psychological Science ›› 2016, Vol. 24 ›› Issue (6): 892-899.doi: 10.3724/SP.J.1042.2016.00892

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The underlying mechanism behind testing effect: Perspective from the episodic context account

LIU Yi1; GAO Chuanji2; LI Bingbing1; GUO Chunyan1   

  1. (1 Beijing Key Laboratory of “Learning & Cognition”, Department of Psychology, Capital Normal University, Beijing 100048, China) (2 Department of Psychology, Institute of Mind and Brain, University of South Carolina, Columbia, 29201, USA)
  • Received:2015-10-20 Online:2016-06-15 Published:2016-06-15
  • Contact: GUO Chunyan, E-mail:


Testing effect refers to the improvement of subsequent memory performance for test compared to restudy. Most theories argue that testing effect is a function of the retrieval mechanism. Recently, many research findings have supported elaborative retrieval theory. But the Episodic Context Account, proposed by Karpicke and colleages in 2014, contends that context reinstatement in retrieval mode, rather than semantic elaboration, plays a key role in the formation of testing effect. This review involves current theories of testing effect. On the basis of the Episodic Context Account and neuroscience studies of retrieval processes, the mechanism of testing effect could be explored more deeply from the angles of retrieval mode and retrieval orientation.

Key words: testing effect, retrieval process, retrieval mode, retrieval orientation