McKenzie J Anderson, Kelly A Dunne, Alexander N Lawriw



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Research suggest that sleep improves memory. Specifically, memories are consolidated—incorporated within the context of previously established memory networks— during sleep (Rasch & Born, 2013). Studies indicate that memories are initially unstable after encoding and must be consolidated to become resistant to interference (Robertson, 2011). The objective of the present research was to examine how interrupting the encoding of a memory would interfere with later memory consolidation. Participants experienced a fake computer crash during their study (encoding) of pictures of common objects in a slideshow. While the experimenter attempted to “fix” the crash, participants completed an unrelated task to prevent rehearsal of the pictures. The slideshow resumed, showing the remaining pictures. One group of participants completed a recognition task of the pictures not long after viewing the slideshow. A second group of participants was asked to complete a delayed recognition task of the pictures via an online survey the following day. A third group of participants was asked to complete both the immediate recognition task, as well as the online delayed recognition task, the following day. Overall, we hypothesized that memory would be better for pictures that appeared near the beginning and the end of encoding, while pictures that were presented just before the interruption would be less likely to be remembered. Moreover, this last effect would be more pronounced on the second day because any memory consolidation that might have taken place would be disrupted. Finally, we expected two outcomes for the second day of testing: first, participants would be less confident in their assessment of their memory than they were on the first day of the experiment. However, participants would be just as and even more accurate in their memory for the pictures that we did not expect would be impacted by the interruption.

Publication Date


Project Designation

Independent Research - Undergraduate

Primary Advisor

Susan T. Davis

Primary Advisor's Department



Stander Symposium project

Interfering with the Consolidation of Memory