Anticipation boosts forgetting of voluntarily suppressed memories

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Colleges, School and Institutes


The role of anticipatory mechanisms in human memory control is poorly understood. Addressing the issue we investigated whether the presence of an anticipatory phase can enhance effects of cognitive control, as they occur during voluntary suppression of episodic memories. Using the Think/No-Think task, participants first learned several face-word associations, and thereafter were asked to either recall (think) or suppress (no-think) the word when provided with the word's face cue. In the one condition participants performed the Think/No-Think task in the presence of an anticipatory phase, giving participants the chance to prepare for memory suppression. In the other condition participants performed the task without such an anticipatory phase. On the final cued recall test participants were asked to recall all of the previously studied words. The results showed stronger forgetting of to-be-suppressed items in the presence than absence of the anticipatory phase. The finding is first evidence for the effectiveness of anticipatory mechanisms in human memory suppression.


Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)252-7
Number of pages6
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2010


  • Analysis of Variance, Association Learning, Executive Function, Female, Humans, Male, Memory, Mental Processes, Mental Recall, Psychological Tests, Questionnaires, Repression, Psychology, Volition, Young Adult