Consolidation Differentially Modulates Schema Effects on Memory for Items and Associations

van Kesteren, Marlieke T. R.; Rijpkema, Mark; Ruiter, Dirk J.; Fernández, Guillén
February 2013
PLoS ONE;Feb2013, Vol. 8 Issue 2, p1
Academic Journal
Newly learned information that is congruent with a preexisting schema is often better remembered than information that is incongruent. This schema effect on memory has previously been associated to more efficient encoding and consolidation mechanisms. However, this effect is not always consistently supported in the literature, with differential schema effects reported for different types of memory, different retrieval cues, and the possibility of time-dependent effects related to consolidation processes. To examine these effects more directly, we tested participants on two different types of memory (item recognition and associative memory) for newly encoded visuo-tactile associations at different study-test intervals, thus probing memory retrieval accuracy for schema-congruent and schema-incongruent items and associations at different time points (t = 0, t = 20, and t = 48 hours) after encoding. Results show that the schema effect on visual item recognition only arises after consolidation, while the schema effect on associative memory is already apparent immediately after encoding, persisting, but getting smaller over time. These findings give further insight into different factors influencing the schema effect on memory, and can inform future schema experiments by illustrating the value of considering effects of memory type and consolidation on schema-modulated retrieval.


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