Examining the Role of Retrieval Practice in Improving Memory Accessibility Under Stress
Abstract: Psychological stress has been shown to impair episodic memory retrieval. The goal of this dissertation was to investigate one method of improving memory accessibility under stress, by using the learning strategy retrieval practice to create stress-resistant memories. In Experiment 1, I examined whether having participants learn information by using retrieval practice, which is analogous ... read moreto taking practice tests, would improve post-stress memory relative to having participants learn via conventional restudying. Confirming my hypotheses, those who learned by restudying demonstrated typical stress-related memory impairment, whereas those who learned using retrieval practice were immune to the deleterious effects of stress. In Experiments 2a and 2b, I aimed to determine whether learning to criterion, in which only one successful retrieval attempt is made, would similarly buffer memory against stress, or whether multiple retrieval attempts are necessary to achieve that effect. I found that criterial learning protected memory against stress in the short term (after 24 hours), but additional retrieval practice was necessary to achieve that effect in the long term (after one week). Finally, in Experiment 3, I tested one potential theoretical mechanism underlying the efficacy of retrieval practice at bolstering memory against stress. My hypotheses were not supported; I found that retrieval practice provided some support for item memory but no support for source memory in the context of stress. Altogether, these experiments help establish and explain the ways in which retrieval practice and psychological stress interact to influence memory retrieval.
Thesis (Ph.D.)--Tufts University, 2018.
Submitted to the Dept. of Psychology.
Advisor: Ayanna Thomas.
Committee: Elizabeth Race, Lisa Shin, and Andrew Yonelinas.
Keyword: Psychology.read less
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