EVENT-METHOD DIRECTED FORGETTING: THE INTENTIONAL FORGETTING OF EVENTS AND ACTIONS
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In an event-method directed forgetting task, instructions to remember (R) or forget (F) were integrated throughout the presentation of four videos depicting common events (e.g., baking cookies). In a concurrent-instruction paradigm (Experiments 1-5) participants were instructed to remember (R) anything presented when the video border was green and to forget (F) anything presented when the video border was purple. In a post-instruction paradigm (Experiments 6-10) participants were instructed to remember anything preceding a green circle and to forget anything preceding a purple circle. The R or F segments lasted 35 s and were randomly assigned such that each video always contained 4 R and 4 F segments. Participants responded more accurately to cued-recall questions (Experiments 1 and 6) and true-false statements (Experiments 2-5 and 7-10) regarding R segments than F segments although this difference was found only for relatively specific (the woman added 3 cups of flour) as opposed to general (the woman added flour) information (Experiments 5 and 7-10). Participants retain a general representation of the events they intend to forget – even though this representation is not as specific as the representation of events they intend to remember. At encoding, participants were faster to discriminate targets overlaid upon F segments compared to R segments in the concurrent-instruction paradigm (Experiment 3) but were slower to detect targets presented following F compared to R instructions in the post-instruction paradigm (Experiments 6-7 and 9-10). Therefore, whereas both concurrent- and post-instruction paradigms produced comparable effects on subsequent mnemonic performance, the underlying processes are not identical. In the concurrent-instruction paradigm, participants needed to control access to working memory; in the post-instruction paradigm, participants needed to control the contents of working memory. In the former case, we expect that participants minimized processing of F segments while actively rehearsing R segments. In the latter case, we expect that participants engaged one or more active mechanisms associated with the removal of processing resources from the representation of the F segments (functionally terminating rehearsal) while focusing instead on the elaborative rehearsal of the R segments.