• Non-Specific Retroactive Interference in Children and Adults

      Fatania, Jillen; Mercer, Tom (Vizja Press and IT Limited, 2017-12-31)
      Retroactive interference (RI) is a primary source of forgetting and occurs when new information disrupts or damages an existing memory. Prior research has shown that children are susceptible to RI when the to-be-remembered and interfering information are similar, but it is unclear whether they are also vulnerable to nonspecific RI . This form of interference occurs when a memory is disrupted by an unrelated and dissimilar distractor task, and the present study explored six- and seven-year-olds susceptibility to such nonspecific RI. In two experiments, participants learnt a list of words and completed a free recall test 5 min later. During the interval, participants either remained quiet (the control condition) or completed spot-the-difference puzzles (the interference condition). In Experiment 1, the children were highly susceptible to nonspecific interference, whereas a sample of adults were not affected by the interfering task. However, when a new sample of children were given more time to encode and retrieve the words in Experiment 2, they were able to resist interference. Nonspecific RI can damage children’s memory, but they do have the ability to prevent this form of interference in certain circumstances.