Delaying interference enhances memory consolidation in amnesic patients

Michaela Dewar, Yuriem Fernandez Garcia, Nelson Cowan, Sergio Della Sala

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    79 Citations (Scopus)


    Some patients with amnesia are able to retain new information for much longer than expected when the time that follows new learning is devoid of further stimuli. Animal work shows that the absence or delaying of interference improves long-term memory consolidation. Our study suggests that this is also true for at least some patients with amnesia. Retention of new verbal material was significantly higher in a sample of patients with amnesia (N = 12) when interference occurred at the end of a 9-min delay interval than when it occurred in the middle or at the beginning of the interval. Such findings cannot be accounted for by the mere use of explicit short-term memory rehearsal. Any such rehearsal should have been blocked by the interference, irrespective of interference onset, thus leading to poor retention in all three conditions. The current findings suggest that at least some of the severe forgetting observed in amnesia is the product of a disruption of memory consolidation by immediate postlearning interference. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2010 APA, all rights reserved)
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)627-634
    Number of pages8
    Issue number5
    Publication statusPublished - Sept 2009


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