How visual memory changes with intervening recall

Deborah H. Tan, Yuhong V Jiang

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations


Being asked to recount a visual memory is common in educational settings, spatial navigation, and crime investigation. Previous studies show that recounting one’s memory can benefit subsequent memory, but most of this work either used verbal materials or conflated category memory with memory for visual details. To test whether recounting may introduce visually-specific interference effects, we tested people’s memory for photographs of objects, but introduced an intervening phase in which people described their memory. We separated memory for the specific exemplar from memory for the basic-level category. Contrary to recent findings on maps and colours, the intervening retrieval practice did not consistently strengthen exemplar memory of objects. Instead, recounting one’s visual memory appeared to introduce interference that sometimes cancelled the benefit of increased retrieval effort. Delaying the final memory test by 24 hr increased the benefit of retrieval practice. These findings suggest that intervening retrieval has multiple effects on visual memory. Instead of being a snapshot, this memory constantly changes with retrieval practice and with time.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1646-1656
Number of pages11
JournalQuarterly Journal of Experimental Psychology
Issue number7
StatePublished - Jul 1 2019

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
We thank Taylor Mikkalson, Allan Ojambo, Anthony South, Jinyi Tao, Brittany Nelson, Yuyan Wang, Catherine Ogilvy, Erin Motley, Abigale Schmidt, and Claudia Hebert for assisting this research, and Wilma Koutstaal, Sha Li, and Chad Marsolek for their invaluable comments and suggestions. The author(s) received no financial support for the research, authorship, and/or publication of this article.

Publisher Copyright:
© Experimental Psychology Society 2018.


  • Visual memory
  • intervening recall
  • testing effect
  • verbal overshadowing


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