Differences Between Proactive And Retroactive Interference
Weve explained the main difference between these two interferences in terms that the first one disrupts new memories with old ones and the other disrupts old memories with new ones, but now we should explain how exactly do both interferences affect our mind and memory.
We see that these differences have a great impact on the overall consequences of the interferences and do shed some light on why in some situations there is no rule whether we will experience one or the other interference.
What Is Proactive Inrerferance
When one learned task prevents the learning of another, this is called proactive interference. When previously acquired knowledge contradicts or contradicts the new information being learned. Proactive interference occurs when new data is not learned because previously acquired knowledge blocks its recall. The presence of old ones hinders the recall of fresh memories. Since the person has been given more time to review and practice the older memories, they are frequently more deeply encoded in good memory. Because of this, they are more readily accessible than more recent recollections. Proactive interference may be mitigated by testing and reciting the new material, as has been proven in studies.
What The Research Says
Researchers have been able to demonstrate the effects of interference in numerous studies. They often do this by increasing the similarity of the information presented. For example, participants may be presented with the original information and then after a period of time, presented with more information.
When tested on what they recall, interference is observed more frequently when the secondary information contains more similarities to the original material.
The more similar two memories are, the more likely it is that interference will occur.
In one of the earliest studies on the interference theory of forgetting, researchers had subjects memorize a list of two-syllable adjectives. Later, subjects were asked to memorize one of five different lists. Some of these lists were very similar to the original test material, while others were very different.
For example, some lists contained synonyms of the original words, some antonyms, and some were simply nonsense syllables. Later testing showed that recall improved as the differences between the two lists increased. The more similar the lists were, the more interference there was, leading to more difficulty with recall.
What the researchers discovered was that the interference task decreased memory performance by as much as 20%.
Interestingly, interference tended to have a greater negative impact on those identified as “fast learners” than it did on those identified as “slow learners.”
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There Is Still A Lot To Be Learned
Im sure you have a lot of questions after learning about proactive and retroactive interference. Why do old memories interfere with new memories in some cases, but in other cases the complete opposite occurs? Why does interference take place at all? And how can you train your brain to reduce interference?
Unfortunately, cognitive psychologists dont have all the answers. There is still a lot of research to be done in the field of interference and false memory. The research that has been done has also primarily dealt with lists of information, as opposed to learning a new language or learning information in other formats. False memories and the misinformation effect can also be hard to prove if looking at case studies or examples from everyday life.
Answer to the Quiz
Youve made it. So which of the above statements was an example of retroactive interference? They all are! And example 4 is an example of the misinformation effect at work.
Learning A New Playbook In Football
Summary: A football player who changes teams has to erase all the old plays from his old team and learn the new playbook. Sometimes, he might revert back to his old plays that are ingrained in his mind.
Every football team has volumes of playbooks and a unique set of terminology that is only used by them. Players spend hours every week studying the plays and trying to memorize the jargon. They spend even more time watching footage of the plays!
There are literally millions of dollars on the line, for both players and coaches. So, everyone is fully committed to inputting all of that information as firmly in their long-term memory as possible.
And then one day, a player gets traded. Now he must replace all of that information in memory with a completely new playbook and language. There will definitely be a lot of proactive interference.
How To Reduce Proactive Interference
Another question that frequently comes up concerns how to prevent proactive interference. How can you reduce the chance that you will use a French word instead of a newly-learned Spanish word?
One study suggests that being exposed to and aware of proactive interference can help to diminish its effects. When participants were exposed to multiple experiences that could cause proactive interference, they were less likely to continue to be affected by proactive interference.
Retroactive Interference In Psychology
Sosic-Vasic et al. studied whether the timing at which the new information is learnt will affect the degree of retroactive interference. Their sample consisted of 30 high school students, who were given a list of 12 German-Japanese word pairs and then another list right after, 3, 6 or 9 minutes after the first list. There was also a control condition when no second list was presented. Then, participants were asked to recall the information from the first list.
The study design was within participants, meaning that each participant took part in each condition, with 2-day breaks between them. They also went through the conditions in different orders to prevent order effects.
The researchers found that:
- When participants were presented with the second list , the memory performance on the first list dropped by 20%.
- The time at which the second list was presented affected different students differently.
It was concluded that the period of 12 minutes after learning information is crucial for memory consolidation, and introducing similar information during this time results in retroactive interference.
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Examples Of Proactive Interference
A lot of examples of proactive interference appear to be things that we have done out of habit. In fact, changing one habit to another is a form often creates proactive interference.
For example, after January 1st, everyone slips up and writes the old year down once or twice. It may take weeks for people to write the correct year because the memory of writing the old year down is interfering.
This may also happen when someone changes their name or pronouns. The memory of the persons former name or pronouns may come to mind in conversation and you slip up.
One last example of proactive interference commonly appears if you are learning a new sport or hobby. Upon learning the rules of baseball, you might accidentally flub and use terms that are specific to basketball, football, or another sport that you learned before baseball.
Multiple lists of information may also result in proactive interference. In most studies involving this theory, participants use lists as a way to assess whether proactive interference is present.
Example 1: Writing Down the Old Year
Writing down the date in January can be a struggle. You feel like youve just gotten used to writing the right year and then its time to write the new year. This is a classic example of proactive interference. Old memories or habits of writing 2019 get in the way of writing 2020. If you get a new phone number or a new address, the same thing might occur.
Example 2: Learning a New Language
Example 3: New Students
Retroactive And Proactive Interference
Have you ever previously learned something in school that interfered with a lesson you are learning currently or learned something new that made you forget what you learned before? This is called proactive interference in psychology, and I have personally experienced this through exceptions to the rules in chemistry and math.
Proactive interference is the form of interference where old memories restrain the capacity to remember new information. Proactive interference occurs when past memories hold back an individual from retaining new memories. Proactive interference is very common when learning something in school. Many times when taking a test a person will remember something they learned in a previous lesson, but they cannot simply remember the new material they learned in that specific lesson. This is an example of proactive interference. Another example would be if an individual is trying to learn a new language like spanish, and they speak french already the french language that is already known might interfere with the comprehension of spanish because they can be similar. The competition between the two memories prevents the new material from encoding into the individuals memory. Proactive interference causes past memories to block the encoding of new memories typically because the memories might correlate or be similar in some way.
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Final Free Recall Test
For the final comprehensive test of all list items, an independent groupst-test revealed significantly higher recall for thoseinstructed with the MOL across all lists than NSI, M =13.60,SD = 3.34, t = 2.34,p< .05, d = 0.48. Figure 2 shows final recall across all conditions.
Mean correct recall on final free recall test out of five items by listand encoding-retrieval strategy instructions.
Previously tested items
Previously untested items
To assess whether MOL training affected final recall across the untestedlists, we conducted a two-way mixed-subjects ANOVA by Strategy Instruction and List Position . We analyzed recall only fromLists 2-4 because participants had already attempted to recall Lists 1 and 5during initial testing. Here, there was no main effect of instruction,demonstrating no difference in final recall of Lists 2-4 between MOLstrategy instruction and NSI, M = 2.45, SD = 0.98,F = 2.54, p> .10,p2 = .027. However, there was a significantmain effect of recall across List Positions 2, 3, and 4,F = 3.26, p< .05,p2 = .034 and a significant interactionbetween Strategy Instruction and List Position, F =4.31, p< .05, p2 = .045.As demonstrated in Figure 2, this interaction was driven by List 4, showinghigher recall in the MOL condition than NSI, M =1.98,SD = 1.33, t = 3.10,p< .01, d = 0.64. Although therewas no main effect of strategy instruction, these analyses suggest that PIbuilt up across lists and was measurable by List 4 on a final recalltest.
How Can Marketers Use Retroactive Interference
Retroactive interference basically involves unlearning. As programmers jump from one programming language to another, theyre actually forgetting previously learned information.
This is a form of conscious learning. However, in order to succeed, marketers need to focus on making potential consumers unlearn things unconsciously. PR agencies also use this strategy to distract people in the event of a crisis with unconscious unlearning.
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Learning To Play A New Version Of An Old Song
Summary: Musicians develop muscle memory of songs. When they are asked to insert a new chorus or stanza, theyll often forget because their muscles automatically start playing the old tune.
When a band is together for a long time, they can build quite the inventory of songs.
After playing the same songs for so many years, sometimes a band will like to reinvent some of those old tunes. So, they create new versions that sound more up-do-date.
This is a good strategy to keep up with modern times and maybe attract new fans. The only problem is that everyone in the band has played those songs a certain way for so long that it can be difficult to make the adjustments.
Sometimes a band member will forget the new parts that were added. Even if they remember the new parts, their fingers might still play the old notes.
As with most examples of proactive interference, the problem is that the previously learned way of doing something is so firmly entrenched in our memory that it is not so easy to replace it with the new way.
Proactive Vs Retroactive Interference
While both psychological interferences can occur when the memories are similar, they differ in direction. Unlike proactive interference, retroactive interference occurs when new memories disrupt the retrieval and maintenance of older memories. It happens when you forget a previously learned task due to learning a new one. For example, suppose you change jobs and successfully learn your new colleagues’ names after a month. Then, you coincidentally meet one of your previous colleagues and address them with your new colleague’s name instead. This shows that learning the new colleagues’ names interfered with the memory of your past colleagues’ names.
In comparison, proactive interference happens when an earlier memory affects the older memories. For example, if you’re a Canadian citizen and learned the names of all cities in Canada, but you want to know the cities in the United States also. While trying to remember the cities of the United States you learned later, the Canadian cities memorized earlier can interfere, indicating proactive interference.
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How Can You Improve Your Learning Ability
To improve learning, consider studying in environments that correspond to an examination. This is because it’s easier to recall information when the environmental conditions of the place or room you studied are similar to an examination room. Here are more valuable tips you can adopt to improve your learning ability:
Why It Is Important To Understand These Interferences
The main goal of understanding the cause of these interferences should be to know how to stop them from occurring or at least minimizing their effect because they can put you in awkward situations you dont want to be in.
Lets take for example learning a new language and then not being able to use it properly because youre bombarded with the grammar of the language youve learned previously.
A quick fix to this problem is to try to recall both translations in your native language so that way you will select the translation you need.
How do you think linguists and polyglots function?
Because theyve mastered the languages they speak to such extent that they know a whole vocabulary of words and their brain is wired that way not to mix them up, so you can learn a thing or two from them and the things we talked about today in order to resolve this problem.
Another point I want to make is that, although these interferences are a common occurrence they are not the cause of memory loss just the process of forgetting the information you dont need which isnt that bad.
Once you understand what they are and what causes them you will be one step ahead of knowing how to avoid the interferences from happening.
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What Are Some Examples Of Proactive And Retroactive Interference
Just like proactive interference, many cases where retroactive interference occur in our daily lives. For example: If you’re an actor and must learn a new monologue for a play, you may forget the previous monologue you learned for a different play. Likewise, suppose you’re a communication major in college.
What Causes Retroactive Interference
4.7/5Retroactive interferencecausethe answer
Retroactive interference is when more recent information gets in the way of trying to recall older information. An example would be calling your ex-boyfriend/girlfriend by your new boyfriend/girlfriend’s name. The new name retroactively interferes with the old one, which is clearly problematic for recall.
Also, how does sleep affect retroactive interference? Sleep has repeatedly been connected to processes of memory consolidation. Testing occurred after 12 hours of diurnal wakefulness or nocturnal sleep. Consistent with the prior work, we found sleep in comparison to wake did not affect memory for the single list, but reduced retroactive interference.
Keeping this in consideration, what are retroactive and proactive interference?
Proactive interference occurs when past memories hold back an individual from retaining new memories. Retroactive interference occurs when new memories hold back an individual from retaining old memories. Competition is what prevents recall of the memory in proactive interference.
What is interference effect in psychology?
Interference is a memory phenomenon in which some memories interfere with the retrieval of other memories. Essentially, interference occurs when some information makes it difficult to recall similar material. Similar memories compete, causing some to be more difficult to remember or even forgotten entirely.
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Trouble Learning A New Route To Work
Summary: If your route to work changes, you might end up continuing to drive the old route on autopilot, causing you to frequently have to turn around to get back on track.
If we live in a certain home for many years, then we get very accustomed to driving one particular route to work each morning. In fact, the route may become so firmly ingrained in our memory that we can drive there almost without thinking.
But then, if we to a new office on the other side of town, we may find ourselves making some wrong turns on some of the same roads we took before. Instead of turning right on Main Street to get to the new office, we end up turning left toward the old office, like we have been doing for so many years.
This habit can be difficult to break.
In this example, our previous driving route is interfering with our ability to change to a new route. Our pattern of driving has already been set and it is difficult to change so quickly.