Psychonomic Bulletin & Review

, Volume 26, Issue 6, pp 1958–1966 | Cite as

A common mechanism underlying choice’s influence on preference and memory

  • Sarah DuBrow
  • Elizabeth A. Eberts
  • Vishnu P. MurtyEmail author
Brief Report


Individual control over learning leads to better memory outcomes, yet it is still unclear which aspects of control matter. One’s sense of agency could be a key component, but it can be challenging to dissociate it from its consequences on the environment. Here we used a paradigm in which participants in one condition had the opportunity to choose between cues (choice condition) and in another were instructed which cue to select (fixed condition). Because the cues had no effect on the memoranda, we could isolate the effect of choice on memory. Participants also rated the cues for preference before and after encoding, allowing us to test how the number of times a cue was chosen affected its preference. By pooling multiple behavioral studies, we were able to use an individual differences approach to examine the relationship between choice effects on preference and memory. Replicating previous work, we found that immediate and delayed (24-h) recognition memory was higher for items encountered in the choice condition. We also found that cues that were selected more often increased their preference in the choice condition, but actually decreased their preference in the fixed condition, suggesting that choice engaged value-related processes. Critically, we found a positive across-subjects relationship between choice memory enhancements and choice-induced preference change for delayed but not for immediate memory. These data suggest that a shared value-based mechanism enhances preference for choice cues and memory consolidation of the choice outcomes. Thus, the value of choice may play an important role in learning enhancements.


Choice Consolidation Decision making Episodic memory 



This work was supported by National Institutes of Health (NIH) grant R01 MH074682. V.P.M. is supported by NIH grant K01 MH111991. We also thank Lila Davachi for her support in experiment design and data collection.

Open practices statement

The data and materials for all experiments are available at None of the experiments were preregistered.


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Copyright information

© The Psychonomic Society, Inc. 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Sarah DuBrow
    • 1
  • Elizabeth A. Eberts
    • 2
  • Vishnu P. Murty
    • 2
    Email author
  1. 1.Department of PsychologyUniversity of OregonEugeneUSA
  2. 2.Department of PsychologyTemple UniversityPhiladelphiaUSA

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