Nov 7, 2018

In for a pound, in for a penny: How the opportunity to gain reward influences the competition for memory resources

BioRxiv : the Preprint Server for Biology
Deborah TalmiDeimante Kavaliauskaite


When people encounter items that they believe will help them gain reward, they later remember them better than those that do not. While it is adaptive to preferentially remember experiences that will be useful later, it is unknown how the competition for memory resources is implemented in time, through the processes of encoding, consolidation, and retrieval. In two experiments we promised participants 1 pound for remembering some pictures, but only 10 pence for remembering others. Their ability to describe the pictures was tested after one minute and after 24 hours. Memory at immediate test showed effects of list composition, suggesting local competition at encoding and/or retrieval. These results are consistent with our recently-proposed emotional Context Maintenance and Retrieval model, supporting it as a general account of motivated memory. In contrast, relative to this baseline, more valuable memories were not preferentially retained following delay, suggesting no detectable role of competition for consolidation.

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