2nd Edition

Chapter 8

Interactive exercise



Activation level:
The variable internal state of a memory trace that contributes to its accessibility at a given point.
Context cues:
Retrieval cues that specify aspects of the conditions under which a desired target was encoded, including (for example) the location and time of the event.
Context-dependent memory:
The finding that memory benefits when the spatio-temporal, mood, physiological, or cognitive context at retrieval matches that present at encoding.
Direct/explicit memory tests:
Any of a variety of memory assessments that overtly prompt participants to retrieve past events.
Dual-process theories of recognition:
A class of recognition models that assumes that recognition memory judgments can be based on two independent forms of retrieval process: recollection and familiarity.
Encoding specificity principle:
The more similar the cues available at retrieval are to the conditions present at encoding, the more effective the cues will be.
Familiarity-based recognition:
A fast, automatic recognition process based on the perception of a memory’s strength. Proponents of dual process models consider familiarity to be independent of the contextual information characteristic of recollection.
Mood-congruent memory:
Bias in the recall of memories such that negative mood makes negative memories more readily available than positive, and vice versa. Unlike mood dependency, it does not affect the recall of neutral memories.
Mood-dependent memory:
A form of context dependent effect whereby what is learnt in a given mood, whether positive, negative or neutral, is best recalled in that mood.
Process dissociation procedure (PDP):
A technique for parceling out the contributions of recollection and familiarity within a recognition task.
Recognition memory:
A person’s ability to correctly decide whether he/she has encountered a stimulus previously in a particular context.
The slower, more attention-demanding component of recognition memory in dual process models, which involves retrieval of contextual information about the memory.
Reconstructive memory:
An active and inferential process of retrieval whereby gaps in memory are filled-in based on prior experience, logic, and goals.
Remember/know procedure:
A procedure used on recognition memory tests to separate the influences of familiarity and recollection on recognition performance. For each test item, participants report whether it is recognized because the person can recollect contextual details of seeing the item (classified as a “remember” response) or because the item seems familiar, in the absence of specific recollections (classified as “know” response).
Repetition priming:
Enhanced processing of a stimulus arising from recent encounters with that stimulus, a form of implicit memory.
The process of recovering a target memory based on one or more cues, subsequently bringing that target into awareness.
Retrieval mode:
The cognitive set, or frame of mind, that orients a person towards the act of retrieval, ensuring that stimuli are interpreted as retrieval cues.
Signal detection theory:
A model of recognition memory that posits that memory targets (signals) and lures (noise) on a recognition test possess an attribute known as strength or familiarity, which occurs in a graded fashion, with previously encountered items generally possessing more strength that novel items. The process of recognition involves ascertaining a given test item’s strength and then deciding whether it exceeds a criterion level of strength, above which items are considered to be previously encountered. Signal detection theory provides analytic tools that separate true memory from judgment biases in recognition.
Source monitoring:
The process of examining the contextual origins of a memory in order to determine whether it was encoded from a particular source.


Research activity: retrieval processes and mechanisms

  1. Critically consider the similarities and differences between mood-dependent, context-dependent, and state-dependent retrieval processes and mechanisms. Drawing on your own experiences and evidence from this chapter, would these types of retrieval play different roles in recall and recognition memory?
  2. Drawing on the principles of reconstructive memory and source monitoring, consider the ramifications of these phenomena for acquisition and retrieval of information in the legal, political, and educational sectors. You may find it useful to consider the types of information police, lawyers, politicians, and academics acquire on a daily basis, how this is used to inform policy, and how it is used to influence others. Can you devise any strategies that may safeguard against these effects?


Tip-of-the-Tongue Phenomenon: A demo, plus links to more information.
Video on “tip-of-the-tongue” learning.
Danker, J.F. and Anderson, J.R. (2010). The ghosts of brain states past: remembering reactivates the brain regions engaged during encoding. Psychological Bulletin, 136(1), 87.

Please find below biographies of three important researchers in the field of memory: Morris Moscovitch, Larry Jacoby, and Marcia K. Johnson.

Morris Moscovitch

Personal history

Morris Moscovitch, Professor of Psychology at the University of Toronto, holds the Glassman Chair in Neuropsychology and Aging. Born in Bucharest, Romania, in 1945, he moved to Israel when he was 4 and to Canada at 7. He received his B.Sc. at McGill in 1966 while working on memory consolidation with Peter Milner. He studied at the University of Pennsylvania with Paul Rozin where he completed both his M.A. and Ph.D. in 1972 and began his work on human neuropsychology. His dissertation was on hemispheric specialization.

He moved to the University of Toronto, Erindale Campus, in 1971 and to the St. George Campus of the University in 2000. He was also: a post-doctoral fellow at the at the Montreal Neurological Institute from 1973 to 1974 where he worked with Brenda Milner; a visiting professor at the Hebrew University from 1978 to 1979 where he worked with Shlomo Bentin; at the Institute of Advanced Studies in Jerusalem (1985–1986) with Israel Nachshon; at the University of Arizona (1996, 1999–2000) with Lynn Nadel.

Publishing more than 200 papers, Moscovitch was elected a Fellow of Divisions 3 and 6 of APA, of AAAS, and of the Royal Society of Canada, and was honored for promoting neuropsychology in Israel. In 2007, he received the D.O. Hebb Award for lifetime contributions to research, which is awarded annually by the Brain, Behavior, and Cognitive Science Society of Canada. He was the 2008 recipient of the William James Award for lifetime contributions to experimental psychology by the American Psychological Society. In 2012 he was honored by the International Neuropsychological Society, receiving a Distinguished Career Award. In the same year he also received a Distinguished Career Contribution Award from the Cognitive Neuroscience Society.

He serves on the editorial board of a number of journals including Cognitive Neuropsychology, Cognitive Brain Research, and Cortex. He was Co-Editor-in Chief with David Milner of Neuropsychologia, and is now the Reviews Editor for the journal. He is also Director of Graduate Studies of the Department of Psychology, University of Toronto.

Moscovitch’s clinical duties include consultant on memory and aging at the Department of Psychology, Baycrest Centre for Geriatric Care, and as a supervisor at the University of Toronto’s clinical extension program. In the early 1980s, he was one of the principal members of a task force that developed and drafted the guidelines for the Canadian Psychological Association to give Clinical Psychology specialty designation. Most recently, he serves on the Committee for Graduate Training for the College of Psychologists of Ontario, which helps draft procedures for training and certification.


Morris Moscovitch studies memory and cognition from a neuropsychological perspective. By using behavior and neuroimaging to investigate memory in younger and older adults, and in people with brain pathology, he has gained insights into the nature of memory that may not have been possible if he examined only a single population. His work has shown that memory is not unitary, but consists of different types, each operating according to different principles, mediated by different brain structures, and affected differently by aging.

Recently, his focus has been on distinguishing between memory for particular autobiographical events, which entails the ability to re-experience the past, and memory for the past that entails only a sense of familiarity with it or knowledge about it, such as facts one knows about oneself and the world. In collaboration with Gordon Winocur, Lynn Nadel, and their students and post-doctoral fellows, he has challenged the idea that old memories are more resilient than recent ones. They have shown that remembering and re-experiencing the past vividly depends on the hippocampus, no matter how long ago the event occurred, whereas simple familiarity or knowledge of the past and facts about the world or oneself depend on the hippocampus only temporarily.

Currently, Moscovitch is interested in how these rich memories are formed, how autobiographical memories interact with general knowledge, what role attention plays in memory formation and retrieval, how memories are distorted, and what brain structures, particularly the medial temporal lobes and prefrontal cortex, are implicated in all these processes.

In addition to studying memory, he also is concerned with face recognition. Are there neural mechanisms and processes that are specialized for recognition of faces as opposed to that of other complex visual objects? His work has identified two processes: one holistic and special for faces, and one analytic, and common to other faces and objects. His current research addresses the problem of how these different types of information interact to support normal face recognition.


Moscovitch, M. (1992). Memory and working with memory: A component process model based on modules and central systems. Journal of Cognitive Neuroscience, 4, 257–267.

Moscovitch, M., Winocur, G., & Behrmann, M. (1997). What makes face recognition special? Evidence from a person with visual object agnosia and dyslexia but normal face recognition. Journal of Cognitive Neuroscience, 9, 555–604.

Nadel, L., & Moscovitch, M. (1997). Memory consolidation, retrograde amnesia and the hippocampal complex. Current Opinion in Neurobiology, 7, 217–227.

Moscovitch, M., Rosenbaum, R. S., Gilboa, A., Addis, D. R., Westmacott, R., Grady, C. L., McAndrews, M. P., Winocur, G., & Nadel, L. (2005). Functional neuroanatomy of remote episodic (autobiographical), semantic and spatial memory in humans as determined by lesion and functional neuroimaging studies: A unified account based on Multiple Trace Theory. Journal of Anatomy, 207, 35–66.

Moscovitch, M. (2008). The hippocampus as a “stupid,” domain-specific module: Implications for theories of recent and remote memory. Canadian Journal of Experimental Psychology, 62, 62–79.

Larry Jacoby

Personal history

Larry Jacoby was born on March 11, 1944 in El Dorado, Kansas. Much of his childhood was spent in Smileyburg, Kansas, which had a population of 12, including his older brother, Larry, and his parents. He received his undergraduate degree from Washburn University in Topeka, Kansas, in 1966. He started undergraduate school on a football scholarship, joined a fraternity, and, as he says, discovered strong drink along with women. It was not until his last year and a half of undergraduate school that he discovered academics. At that time, he became interested in the psychology of learning, and served as a research assistant in a learning lab, running rats. He received his Ph.D. at Southern Illinois University in Carbondale in 1970.

Against the backdrop of his early undergraduate days, he was pleased recently to be given a distinguished alumnus award by Washburn University. Another point of pride is that he has been invited to give a colloquium at each of the several universities that rejected his application for graduate school.

Jacoby started graduate school doing research on animal learning in the Spence/Hull tradition, working with James McHose, who is a Spence Ph.D. After becoming disenchanted with animal research, he changed to research on human memory under the supervision of Robert Radtke. His first job was at Iowa State University. During his time there, he took a leave of absence to spend a year with F.I.M. Craik at the University of Toronto. Interactions with Craik, Endel Tulving, Paul Kolers, and others in the Toronto group had a large impact on his thinking. In 1975, he moved to McMaster University in Hamilton, Ontario.

With a few short stops elsewhere, he remained at McMaster until 2000 when he moved to Washington University in St. Louis. The memory group at Washington University is an incredibly strong one, including excellent cognitive researchers (e.g., Roddy Roediger, Mark McDaniel, and Dave Balota) as well as outstanding neural imaging researchers (e.g., Todd Braver, Ian Dobbins, and Steve Petersen). Jacoby is sure he will remain at Washington University for the rest of his career.


Among his best-known publications is an article by Jacoby and Dallas that appeared in 1981. Results reported in that article showed that manipulating levels of processing had a large effect on recognition memory, replicating results of prior experiments. In contrast, earlier presentation of a word greatly enhanced participants’ ability to later identify the word when it was briefly flashed under perceptually difficult conditions, but this effect was as large for words that had been shallowly processed as for those that had been deeply processed. That is, the effect of levels on recognition memory was dissociated from its lack of an effect on perceptual identification performance. Dissociations of this sort are also found with amnesiacs, and came to be known as dissociations between explicit and implicit memory. Jacoby resisted the term “implicit memory” in favor of a distinction between automatic and cognitively controlled processing. His preference for the automatic/controlled distinction reflects the longer history of that distinction along with its emphasis on awareness.

Direct tests of memory (e.g., recognition memory) assess awareness of previously studying an item whereas indirect tests (e.g., a perceptual-identification test) can reflect memory for prior study, although participants are unaware of having engaged in that prior study. Dissociations between performances on the two types of test raise questions regarding the bases of awareness. Jacoby and colleagues’ answer to that question has been to argue that awareness can rely on an attribution process that reflects relative fluency. In that vein, Jacoby has shown effects of memory that occur without awareness can make a background noise seem less loud, a nonfamous name seem famous, and a misspelled word appear to be correctly spelled as well as other effects of the same sort. A chapter by Jacoby, Kelley, and Dywan (1989) provides a summary of early experiments showing such memory misattributions.

Jacoby and his colleagues developed process-dissociation procedures that are designed to separate the contributions of automatic and consciously controlled processes to overall performance of a task. Such procedures are necessary because tasks are seldom process pure. Their procedures make use of a very simple quantitative model that provides estimates of the contribution of processes to reveal dissociations. For example, both dividing attention and requiring fast responding have been shown to influence estimated recollection (a cognitively controlled use of memory) while leaving estimated automatic influences of memory unchanged as do age-related differences in memory.

The model underlying the process-dissociation procedures was, as Jacoby puts it, ideally positioned to annoy almost everybody—too complex for those who are largely unfamiliar with quantitative models and too simple for those who are experts with such models. Most controversial is the assumption that cognitively controlled and automatic influences independently contribute to performance. However, there is strong evidence to suggest that the assumption sometimes holds. For example, Jacoby, Bishara, Hessels, and Hughes (2007) showed convergence of estimates across procedures as support for the independence assumption in the context of an investigation of retroactive interference.

A simple quantitative model holds advantages over more complex models for purposes of investigating individual differences as well as differences between populations. Much of Jacoby’s recent work has used the distinction between automatic and cognitively controlled processes to investigate age-related differences in memory. The automatic/controlled distinction has shown promise for both diagnosis and treatment of memory deficits. Work in this vein has been briefly summarized by Jacoby and Rhodes (2006).


Jacoby, L. L., & Dallas, M. (1981). On the relationship between autobiographical memory and perceptual learning. Journal of Experimental Psychology: General, 3, 306–340.

Jacoby, L. L., Kelley, C. M., & Dywan, J. (1989). Memory attributions. In H.L. Roediger & F.I.M. Craik (Eds.), Varieties of memory and consciousness: Essays in honor of Endel Tulving (pp. 391–422). Hillsdale, NJ: Erlbaum.

Jacoby, L. L., & Rhodes, M. G. (2006). False remembering in the aged. Current Directions in Psychological Science, 15(2), 49–53.

Marcia K. Johnson

Personal history

Marcia K. Johnson was born and raised in California. She earned her B.A. from the University of California, Berkeley in 1965, having conducted her first psychological experiment with the guidance of Geoffrey Keppel and Dan Slobin. In 1966, Johnson enrolled in Berkeley’s Ph.D. program under the mentorship of Leo Postman and set about investigating organizational processes in memory. During this period, until she received her Ph.D. in experimental psychology in 1971, she held a fellowship at Berkeley’s Institute of Human Learning. She was Assistant, Associate, and Professor of Psychology at the State University of New York at Stony Brook from 1970 to 1985 and Professor of Psychology at Princeton University from 1985 to 2000, where she was instrumental in initiating and advancing their neuroimaging resources.

She moved to Yale University in 2000, where she is the Sterling Professor of Psychology and Chair, Department of Psychology.

Johnson has received a number of awards (William James Award from the Association for Psychological Science; Distinguished Scientific Contribution Award from the American Psychological Association; Master Mentor Award from APA’s Division 20; Yale University Graduate School Mentorship Award; Guggenheim Fellowship; Fellow, Center for Advanced Study in the Behavioral Sciences; Cattell Fellowship; Visiting Scientist, Memory Disorders Research Center at the Boston Veterans Affairs Medical Center) and grants (National Science Foundation; National Institutes of Mental Health; National Institute on Aging, including a MERIT award), has served on the editorial boards of various journals, is past Chair of the Psychonomic Society, and is a Trustee of the Cattell Foundation. In 2014 she was elected to be a member of the National Academy of Sciences, in recognition of her distinguished and continuing achievements in original research.


Johnson is a leader in the field of research on human memory and cognition. Her early work focused on the relation between comprehension and memory, especially constructive and reconstructive mental processes. She developed this constructivist approach in collaboration with John Bransford, a new Ph.D. from the University of Minnesota who arrived at Stony Brook the same year she did. For example, Bransford and Johnson showed that understanding depends on having an appropriate mental context or schema activated. At the same time, such contexts or schemas can be the source of errors in memory.

Johnson's laboratory pioneered in the systematic study of the mechanisms of memory distortion, with Carol Raye, Steve Lindsay, Shahin Hashtroudi, Karen Mitchell, and many other collaborators. For example, Johnson and colleagues' work on reality monitoring has investigated how the memory representations of perception and thought (inferences, imaginations) are alike and how they are different, how they are discriminated, and why they are sometimes confused. They have investigated source monitoring more generally, including how individual features of experience (e.g., color, shape, location, emotion) are bound together to create complex memories.

Johnson and colleagues’ theoretical approach to understanding the encoding, retrieval, and evaluation of true and false memories, the Source Monitoring Framework, has been widely influential; for example, it has been used as a basis for explaining unconscious plagiarism, hallucinations and delusions in psychopathology, distortions in eyewitness testimony, children’s reports of sexual abuse, and reports of recovery of repressed memories. The ideas and results from Johnson’s and other labs investigating source memory have influenced not only other cognitive psychologists, but also developmental, social, and clinical psychologists and neuroscientists.

Johnson has also proposed a conceptual framework—a Multiple-Entry Modular (MEM) model for analyzing and synthesizing cognitive findings. The MEM architecture organizes component processes of cognition into functional subsystems (perceptual and reflective) and component processes of these subsystems. Reflective processes allow us to foreground, sustain, organize, manipulate, and revive information. In the context of this model, she has discussed the relation between cognition and consciousness, cognition and emotion, and the disruption of cognition associated with brain damage and normal aging.

Her lab currently is also using neuroimaging to identify brain regions associated with monitoring the origin of information, to explore component processes of cognition, the relation between cognition and emotion, and to identify areas showing age-related dysfunction in component processes of cognition.


Johnson, M. K. (2006). Memory and reality. American Psychologist, 61, 760–771.

Johnson, M. K. (2007). Memory systems: A cognitive construct for analysis and synthesis. In H. L. Roediger, Y. Dudai, and S. M. Fitzpatrick, (Eds.), Science of memory: Concepts (pp. 353–357). New York: Oxford University Press.

Johnson, M. K., Raye, C. L., Mitchell, K. J., Greene, E. J., Cunningham, W. A., & Sanislow, C. A. (2005). Using fMRI to investigate a component process of reflection: Prefrontal correlates of refreshing a just-activated representation. Cognitive, Affective, & Behavioral Neuroscience, 5, 339–361.

Bransford, J. D., & Johnson, M. K. (l973). Considerations of some problems of comprehension. In W. Chase (Ed.), Visual information processing (pp. 383–438). New York: Academic Press.

Johnson, M. K., & Raye, C. L. (l98l). Reality monitoring. Psychological Review, 88, 67–85.

Johnson, M. K., Hashtroudi, S., & Lindsay, D. S. (1993). Source monitoring. Psychological Bulletin, 114, 3–28.

Johnson, M. K., & Hirst, W. (1993). MEM: Memory subsystems as processes. In A. F. Collins, S. E. Gathercole, M. A. Conway, and P. E. Morris (Eds.), Theories of memory (pp. 241–286). Hove, UK: Psychology Press.