Reference Work Entry

Encyclopedia of Clinical Neuropsychology

pp 1303-1304

Incidental Memory

  • Elizabeth Louise GliskyAffiliated withDepartment of Psychology, University of Arizona


Incidental learning


Incidental memory refers to memories that are acquired without intention.

Current Knowledge

Although intentional learning may often lead to good memory, Craik and Tulving demonstrated that it was not the intention to learn that was critical for later memory, but rather the type of processing engaged at the time of encoding. Information that was processed meaningfully was well remembered whether or not there was an intention to remember. People also acquire information incidentally in the course of other activities, even though they have no intention of doing so and may not have processed the information meaningfully. Memories that are acquired in this way may be referred to as incidental memories.

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