The amnesic effect of daydreaming

August, 2010

A new study shows that daydreaming not only impairs your memory of something you’ve just experienced, but that daydreaming of distant places impairs memory more.

Context is important for memory. Therefore it’s not surprising that shifting your mind’s focus to another context can impair recall — or help you forget. Following on from research finding that thinking about something else blocks access to memories of the recent past, a new study has found that daydreaming about a more distant place impairs memory more compared to daydreaming about a closer place.

The study involved participants being presented with a number of words, then being asked to think either about home or their parents’ house (where they hadn’t been for several weeks) before being shown another list of words. They were then asked to recall as many words from both lists as they could. Those who had thought about home remembered more of the words from the first list than did those who had thought about their parents’ house. In another experiment, those who thought about a vacation within the U.S. remembered more words than those who thought about a vacation abroad.

The findings confirm the importance of context in recall, and point to ways in which you can manipulate your wandering thoughts to either help you remember or forget. I’d be interested to know what recall was like after a delay, however. It might be that the context effects are more pronounced in immediate recall.

Reference: 

[1673] Delaney, P. F., Sahakyan L., Kelley C. M., & Zimmerman C. A.
(2010).  Remembering to Forget.
Psychological Science. 21(7), 1036 - 1042.

Related News

Do older adults forget as much as they think, or is it rather that they ‘misremember’?

A small study has tested the eminent Donald Hebb’s hypothesis that visual imagery results from the reactivation of neural activity associated with viewing images, and that the re-enactment of eye-movement patterns helps both imagery and

A study involving 60 undergraduate students confirms the value of even a single instance of retrieval practice in an everyday setting, and also confirms the value of cues for peripheral details, which are forgotten more readily.

Data from two longitudinal studies of older adults (a nationally representative sample of older adults, and the Alzheimer’s Disease Neuroimaging Initiative) has found that a brief cognitive test can distinguish memory decline associated with healthy aging from more serious memory disorders, year

Evidence is accumulating that age-related cognitive decline is rooted in three related factors: processing speed slows down (because of myelin

We know that people with depression tend to focus on, and remember, negative memories rather than positive. Interestingly, it’s not simply an emotion effect.

Our life-experiences contain a wealth of new and old information. The relative proportions of these change, of course, as we age. But how do we know whether we should be encoding new information or retrieving old information?

Here’s an intriguing study for those interested in how language affects how we think.

A study involving 75 perimenopausal women aged 40 to 60 has found that those with memory complaints tended to show impairments in

Previous research has found that carriers of the so-called

Pages

Subscribe to Latest newsSubscribe to Latest newsSubscribe to Latest health newsSubscribe to Latest news