Educational Psychology Review

, Volume 11, Issue 1, pp 1-88

First online:

Interference and Inhibition in Cognition and Behavior: Unifying Themes for Educational Psychology

  • Frank N. DempsterAffiliated withCognitive Interference Laboratory, University of Nevada
  • , Alice J. CorkillAffiliated withCognitive Interference Laboratory, University of Nevada

Rent the article at a discount

Rent now

* Final gross prices may vary according to local VAT.

Get Access


In this article, we review modern work on interference and inhibition in cognition and behavior. We begin by briefly reviewing the historical and conceptual roots of this new body of work. Next we discuss five new theoretical frameworks that use the concepts of interference and inhibition to explain cognitive and behavioral phenomena. In the section that follows, we review evidence of individual and developmental differences in inhibition and susceptibility to interference in “at-risk” students. We then consider the implications of this new body of work for research on educational psychology by discussing six selected areas of research: intelligence, strategies, reading comprehension, logical and mathematical reasoning, self-regulated learning, and retention. In the next section, we explore four critical issues that pose significant challenges to research in inhibition and interference. Finally, we discuss the relevance of this work to educational practice by focusing on its implications for the curriculum and instruction. Throughout, our principal goal is to bring this new body of work to the attention of the readers of this journal and to show how it might be useful in guiding research and theory in educational psychology.

interference inhibition intelligence cognitive strategies self-regulated learning