The paper focuses on the phenomenon of forgetting as a primal and generally productive memory process. The cases that require a temporary and permanent forgetting of the material stored in the long-term memory are contrasted. The main methodological obstacle in forgetting research is identified as arising from the logical prohibition to argument from the negative, i.e. “the evidence of absence is not the evidence of absence”. Two mechanisms of forgetting are discussed in the paper: transformation of the memory trace and modulation of trace accessibility. The former mechanism of forgetting consists of memory trace destruction (memory trace decay, retroactive and proactive interference, and «catastrophic» interference) or its transformation that leads to forming a new memory representation. We speculate that the most promising way to legitimize the trace destruction mechanism is narrowing the further research to episodic memory subsystem. The latter mechanism of forgetting consists of both passive failure in access to appropriate memory content (the tip of the tongue phenomenon, the category size effect, the fan effect) and the process of active retrieval inhibition. This phenomenon represents temporary inhibition of competing semantically similar responses in semantic memory, and motivational inhibition of self-deprecating memories in autobiographical memory. Then we put into consideration a variety of experimental paradigms in intentional forgetting research. Contrary to the common claim that forgetting is а universal and homogeneous phenomenon, we propose that forgetting strategies might vary in different memory subsystems, and also depend on activity characteristics during encoding, storage and retrieval.
Sections: Applied research;
Available Online 30.11.2016
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