Can we learn to forget?

Research output: Contribution to conferencePosterAcademic


While a lot is known about why people forget information that has to be remembered, only little is known about whether people can intentionally forget information held in working memory (WM). Here, we used memory-driven attentional capture to examine such intentional forgetting. In Experiment 1, we found that a distractor matching a to-be-forgotten item still captured attention in a visual search task, but this capture effect was weaker than that observed for distractors that matched a to-be-remembered item. In Experiment 2, we asked whether forgetting can be learned by practicing the task across four days. Results showed that while attentional capture by to-be-remembered distractors decreased with training, there was no reduction of attentional capture by to-be-forgotten items. These results suggest that while practice may allow participants to resist attentional capture by items retained in WM, it does not allow participants to become better at forgetting no longer relevant items.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 2016
EventPsychonomic Society's 57th Annual Meeting - Boston, Boston, United States
Duration: 17-Nov-201620-Nov-2016
Conference number: 57


ConferencePsychonomic Society's 57th Annual Meeting
Abbreviated titlePsychonomics
Country/TerritoryUnited States
Internet address

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