Attention, Perception, & Psychophysics

, Volume 79, Issue 7, pp 1878–1885 | Cite as

Recognition-induced forgetting of faces in visual long-term memory

  • Kelsi F. Rugo
  • Kendall N. Tamler
  • Geoffrey F. Woodman
  • Ashleigh M. Maxcey
Short Report


Despite more than a century of evidence that long-term memory for pictures and words are different, much of what we know about memory comes from studies using words. Recent research examining visual long-term memory has demonstrated that recognizing an object induces the forgetting of objects from the same category. This recognition-induced forgetting has been shown with a variety of everyday objects. However, unlike everyday objects, faces are objects of expertise. As a result, faces may be immune to recognition-induced forgetting. However, despite excellent memory for such stimuli, we found that faces were susceptible to recognition-induced forgetting. Our findings have implications for how models of human memory account for recognition-induced forgetting as well as represent objects of expertise and consequences for eyewitness testimony and the justice system.


Memory: long-term memory Face recognition Visual memory and face recognition Recognition-induced forgetting Visual long-term memory 



We thank Christian A. Meissner for the face stimuli. This research was supported by the National Eye Institute of the National Institutes of Health (R01-EY025275, R01-EY019882, R01-MH110378, P30-EY08126, and T32-EY007135).


  1. Anderson, J. R. (1974). Retrieval of propositional information from long-term memory. Cognitive Psychology, 6(4), 451–474.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Anderson, M. C. (2003). Rethinking interference theory: Executive control and the mechanisms of forgetting. Journal of Memory and Language, 49, 415–445. doi: CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Anderson, M. C., Bjork, R. A., & Bjork, E. L. (1994). Remembering can cause forgetting: Retrieval dynamics in long-term memory. Journal of Experimental Psychology: Learning, Memory, and Cognition, 20(5), 1063–1087. doi: PubMedGoogle Scholar
  4. Bukach, C. M., Phillips, W. S., & Gauthier, I. (2010). Limits of generalization between categories and implications for theories of category specificity. Attention, Perception, & Psychophysics, 72(7), 1865–1874.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Calkins, M. W. (1898). A study of immediate and delayed recall of the concrete and of the verbal. Psychological Review, 5, 451–456.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Chase, W. G., & Simon, H. A. (1973). Perception in chess. Cognitive Psychology, 4, 55–81.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Cousineau, D. (2005). Confidence intervals in within-subject designs: A simpler solution to Loftus and Masson's method. Tutorial in Quantitative Methods for Psychology,1,42–45.Google Scholar
  8. Durso, F. T., & O’Sullivan, C. S. (1983). Naming and remembering proper and common nouns and pictures. Journal of Experimental Psychology: Learning, Memory, and Cognition, 9(3), 497–510. doi: Google Scholar
  9. Evans, J. R., Marcon, J. L., & Meissner, C. A. (2009). Cross-racial lineup identification: Assessing the potential benefits of context reinstatement. Psychology, Crime & Law, 15(1), 19–28.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Farah, M. J., Wilson, K. D., Drain, H. M., & Tanaka, J. R. (1995). The inverted face inversion effect in prosopagnosia: Evidence for mandatory, face-specific perceptual mechanisms. Vision Research, 35, 2089–2093.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  11. Farah, M. J., Wilson, K. D., Drain, M., & Tanaka, J. N. (1998). What is “special” about face perception? Psychological Review, 105(3), 482.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  12. Faul, F., Erdfelder, E., Lang, A.-G., & Buchner, A. (2007). G* Power 3: A flexible statistical power analysis program for the social, behavioral, and biomedical sciences. Behavior Research Methods, 39(2), 175–191.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  13. Gehring, R. E., Toglia, M. P., & Kimble, G. A. (1976). Recognition memory for words and pictures at short and long retention intervals. Memory & Cognition, 4(3), 256–260. doi: CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Gilbert, C. D., Sigman, M., & Crist, R. E. (2001). The neural basis of perceptual learning. Neuron, 31, 681–697.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  15. Grill-Spector, K., Henson, R., & Martin, A. (2006). Repetition and the brain: Neural models of stimulus-specific effects. Trends in Cognitive Sciences, 10, 14–23.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  16. Hockley, W. E. (2008). The picture superiority effect in associative recognition. Memory & Cognition, 36(7), 1351–1359. doi: CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Juola, J. F., Taylor, G. A., & Young, M. E. (1974). Stimulus encoding and decision processes in recognition memory. Journal of Experimental Psychology, 102(6), 1108. doi: CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Kirkpatrick, E. A. (1894). An experimental study of memory. Psychological Review, 1(6), 602.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. MacLeod, M. (2002). Retrieval-induced forgetting in eyewitness memory: Forgetting as a consequence of remembering. Applied Cognitive Psychology, 16(2), 135–149. doi: CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Madigan, S. (1974). Representational storage in picture memory. Bulletin of the Psychonomic Society, 4(6), 567–568. doi: CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Maxcey, A. M. (2016). Recognition-induced forgetting is not due to category-based set size. Attention, Perception, & Psychophysics, 78(1), 187–197. doi: CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Maxcey, A. M., & Bostic, J. (2015). Activating learned exemplars in children impairs memory for related exemplars in visual long-term memory. Visual Cognition, 23(5), 643–558. doi: CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Maxcey, A. M., Bostic, J., & Maldonado, T. (2016). Recognition practice results in a generalizable skill in older adults: Decreased intrusion errors to novel objects belonging to practiced categories. Applied Cognitive Psychology doi:
  24. Maxcey, A. M., Glenn, H., & Stansberry, E. (2017). Recognition-induced forgetting does not occur for temporally grouped objects unless they are semantically related. Psychonomic Bulletin & Review doi:
  25. Maxcey, A. M., & Woodman, G. F. (2014). Forgetting induced by recognition of visual images. Visual Cognition, 22(6), 789–808.CrossRefPubMedPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
  26. Meissner, C. A., & Brigham, J. C. (2001). Thirty years of investigating the own-race bias in memory for faces: A meta-analytic review. Psychology, Public Policy, and Law, 7(1), 3.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Meissner, C. A., Brigham, J. C., & Butz, D. A. (2005). Memory for own—and other—race faces: A dual-process approach. Applied Cognitive Psychology, 19(5), 545–567.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Migueles, M., & García-Bajos, E. (2007). Selective retrieval and induced forgetting in eyewitness memory. Applied Cognitive Psychology, 21(9), 1157–1172. doi: CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. Morey, R. D. (2008). Confidence intervals from normalized data: A correction to Cousineau (2005). Tutorial in Quantitative Methods for Psychology, 4(2), 61-64. 10.3758/s13414-017-1419-1Google Scholar
  30. Münsterberg, H. (1894). Studies from the Harvard Psychological Laboratory: I. Psychological Review, 1(1), 34.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. Nelson, D. L., Reed, V. S., & McEvoy, C. L. (1977). Learning to order pictures and words: A model of sensory and semantic encoding. Journal of Experimental Psychology: Human Learning and Memory, 3(5), 485. doi: Google Scholar
  32. Nelson, D. L., Reed, V. S., & Walling, J. R. (1976). Pictorial superiority effect. Journal of Experimental Psychology: Human Learning and Memory, 2(5), 523. doi: Google Scholar
  33. Paivio, A., & Csapo, K. (1973). Picture superiority in free recall: Imagery or dual coding? Cognitive Psychology, 5(2), 176–206. doi: CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. Paivio, A., Rogers, T. B., & Smythe, P. C. (1968). Why are pictures easier to recall than words? Psychonomic Science, 11(4), 137–138. doi: CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. Paivio, A., Yuille, J. C., & Madigan, S. A. (1968). Concreteness, imagery, and meaningfulness values for 925 nouns. Journal of Experimental Psychology Monograph Supplement, 76(1, Part 2), 1–25.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  36. Palmer, S. E. (1999). Vision science: Photons to phenomenology. Cambridge, MA: Bradford Books/MIT Press.Google Scholar
  37. Reeder, R. R., Stein, T., & Peelen, M. V. (2016). Perceptual expertise improves category detection in natural scenes. Psychonomic Bulletin & Review, 23(1), 172–179. doi: CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  38. Rouder, J. N., Speckman, P. L., Sun, D., Morey, R. D., & Iverson, G. (2009). Bayesian t-tests for accepting and rejecting the null hypothesis. Psychonomic Bulletin & Review, 16, 225–237. doi: CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  39. Shaw, J., Bjork, R., & Handal, A. (1995). Retrieval-induced forgetting in an eyewitness-memory paradigm. Psychonomic Bulletin & Review, 2(2), 249–253. doi: CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  40. Snodgrass, J. G., & Burns, P. M. (1978). The effect of repeated tests on recognition memory for pictures and words. Bulletin of the Psychonomic Society, 11(4), 263–266. doi: CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  41. Snodgrass, J. G., Levy-Berger, G., & Haydon, M. (1985). Human experimental psychology. Oxford, UK: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  42. Snodgrass, J. G., Volvovitz, R., & Walfish, E. R. (1972). Recognition memory for words, pictures, and words+ pictures. Psychonomic Science, 27(6), 345–347. doi: CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  43. Snodgrass, J. G., Wasser, B., Finkelstein, M., & Goldberg, L. B. (1974). On the fate of visual and verbal memory codes for pictures and words: Evidence for a dual coding mechanism in recognition memory. Journal of Verbal Learning and Verbal Behavior, 13(1), 27–37. doi: CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  44. Standing, L. (1973). Learning 10,000 pictures. Quarterly Journal of Experimental Psychology, 25, 207–222. doi: CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  45. Sunday, M., McGugin, R. W., & Gauthier, I. (2017). Domain-specific reports of visual imagery vividness are not related to perceptual expertise. Behavior Research Methods, 49(2), 733–738. doi: CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  46. Wilson, J. P., Hugenberg, K., & Bernstein, M. J. (2013). The cross-race effect and eyewitness identification: How to improve recognition and reduce decision errors in eyewitness situations. Social Issues and Policy Review, 7(1), 83–113.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  47. Wright, D. B., Boyd, C. E., & Tredoux, C. G. (2001). A field study of own-race bias in South Africa and England. Psychology, Public Policy, and Law, 7(1), 119.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© The Psychonomic Society, Inc. 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  • Kelsi F. Rugo
    • 1
  • Kendall N. Tamler
    • 2
  • Geoffrey F. Woodman
    • 2
  • Ashleigh M. Maxcey
    • 3
  1. 1.Department of PsychologyThe University of UtahSalt Lake CityUSA
  2. 2.Department of PsychologyVanderbilt UniversityNashvilleUSA
  3. 3.Department of PsychologyThe Ohio State UniversityColumbusUSA

Personalised recommendations