Psychonomic Bulletin & Review

, Volume 22, Issue 3, pp 766–771 | Cite as

Remembering episodic memories is not necessary for forgetting of negative words: Semantic retrieval can cause forgetting of negative words

  • Masanori Kobayashi
  • Yoshihiko Tanno
Brief Report


Retrieval of a memory can induce forgetting of other related memories, which is known as retrieval-induced forgetting. Although most studies have investigated retrieval-induced forgetting by remembering episodic memories, this also can occur by remembering semantic memories. The present study shows that retrieval of semantic memories can lead to forgetting of negative words. In two experiments, participants learned words and then engaged in retrieval practice where they were asked to recall words related to the learned words from semantic memory. Finally, participants completed a stem-cued recall test for the learned words. The results showed forgetting of neutral and negative words, which was characteristic of semantic retrieval-induced forgetting. A certain degree of overlapping features, except same learning episode, is sufficient to cause retrieval-induced forgetting of negative words. Given the present results, we conclude that retrieval-induced forgetting of negative words does not require recollection of episodic memories.


Cognitive and attentional control Inhibition and memory Memory Episodic memory 



This research was supported by a grant from the Japan Society for the Promotion of Science. We thank Midori Ohkita, Jun Moriya, Mingming Lin, Yoshiko Honma, and Kenji Ikeda for their thoughtful comments on a draft of this manuscript and Motoyuki Sanada for help with data collection.

Supplementary material

13423_2014_719_MOESM1_ESM.pdf (187 kb)
ESM 1 (PDF 187 kb)


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Copyright information

© Psychonomic Society, Inc. 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Graduate School of Arts and SciencesThe University of TokyoTokyoJapan
  2. 2.Graduate School of Environmental StudiesNagoya UniversityNagoya-shiJapan

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