Trying, and failing, to forget has lasting effects
Research conducted by Avery Rizio (post-doctoral scholar) and Nancy Dennis (Associate Professor of Psychology) in the Center for Language Science has been featured in a recent article from Penn State News.
Avery Rizio, a Penn State postdoc in the Language and Aging Lab in the Center for Language Science, and Nancy Dennis, associate professor of psychology, recently published research in the journal Cognitive Neuroscience that demonstrates how forgetting unimportant or outdated information is not accidental, but is an active neurological process.
“Our research shows that even when you try to forget information, some of it may be retained, but you will need to work harder to recall this information. This is reflected by increased activity in areas of the brain that are associated with effort and difficult tasks,” Rizio explained.
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Their work, combined with previous research, indicates that attempting to forget new information involves inhibition of encoding, the crucial first step in creating a new memory, and that such inhibition persists even if the new item is ultimately remembered rather than forgotten. “Inhibition allows us to forget unimportant information,” Dennis explained. “It seems to have a lasting effect on memory processing and makes the ultimate recollection of these items much more difficult.”