Está en la página 1de 2
Joke University and University of Toroste, PANEER, aan ENCODING SPECIFICITY AND RETRIEVAL PROCESSES IN EPISODIC MEMORY‘ ENDEL TULVING® ane DONALD M, THOMSON Aorist Univeveite, Cloyiou, Edetwrin, Toronto, Canada Recent changes in pretheorciloal eriewtatlon tomar problems of hums Memory have Drought with thes oisceri wilh cetwievsl processes, bed a mumber of early versions uf theories uf retrieval have heen consteacie This weaer chacribes an] cvahinies explanations offered by these theories to ac ccomt-for the eect of extralist cuing, facilitatioe of rerall of list items by om list items. Experiments designed to test the currently mast popalar theary al retrieval. the generation-recngnition Uhesry. yielded rewalts incompatible not ly wits geuerationrecognition meets, tut most utber thevcies as well: ceria conditions subjects cousissently failed fo recognise sna recallable ist weeds Seevral tectative explanstion: of this phenomenon of recognition failure were subvemed under the encoding specificity principle ancarding to the mewioey teave of an evee asd hence the peopertics tf effective retricral eur are deterenined by the specific mending operations cstralia performed] kyr he system sn the ingat ‘The current transition from. traditional asanciationism to information processing amd ongattizational points of view about human inemory manifests itself in many ways, of the éleareat signa of change hina to do with the experimental and theoretical separation between storage and retrieval processes, Ti sn important early paper, Malton {1962}, for instance, pointed out that "the princip issues in theory of memory... are about either the storage or the retrieval of traces {p.4]." Only 10 years befare Melton snade the statement, it would have puzzled most students of verbal learning, At thas time memory was still a matter of uceptisition, re tention, transfer, acd interference of asso» clationa hetwen stiswli and responses. White everyone was aware af the logical clistinction “Letween acquisition and reten- fiom on the one bated and retertion and recall on the other hand, these distinctions shaped 2 This research was umported by the Naticaal Science Foundation Grant 24171X, ‘The paper was written daring the first sathor's residence a8 a Fellow at the Center for Advanced Sty in the Behavioral Sciences in Staniont, Callionia, *Reoueals fur repriuts shoukd be sent ta Entel ‘Tolri, cliher at Department of Paycluloay, Yale University, New Havee, Conmectieut 08910 ee at the Department of Pepchology, Univesity of Toreeau, Taruste MSS 1A1, Canaea, linac neither experiment sor theory. At the bevel of conceptual analysis, the mechanism of 7e- call was incladed in the concept af nesocia- tiow sat the level af experimental operations, recall waa observable behavior whinge mes- surable aspects simply served to provide evi- dence about strengti of associations. More- ver, the set of recall wns empirically newtral ii that it diel not alfect the state of the sys- tem it was theoretically uninteresting Le- cause it could nat be studied independently cof acquisition ‘The Inst 10 or 13 yenrs have changed the itleatinnal framework for studying memory. ‘Today the orienting attitudes clearly include the notion that bath recall and recognition are more or lets complex retrieval operations tor processes that can be studie! amd analyzed in some sense separately of Morage opera tions oF processes. Retrieval operations complete the act of remenibering that kegins with encoding of infaemation about an ever into the memary store, Thus, remembering is regneded a3 4 joint product of inforination stored in the past and information present in the immediate cognitive envieonment of the rememberer, Tt is also becoming in- creasingly clear that remembering docs nat involve a mere activation af the learned asuo- ciation or atausal af the stored trace by a stimulus, Some sort of 4 mare camplex in- Escoome Srecaricmy ano Revmeva. 1966), ‘The theory is nlso highly compatible with a well-known principle according to which probability of recall of an item is a direct function of the similarity between the recall situation sand the original learning en- vironment (e.g,, Hollingworth, 1928; Mel- ton, 1963), Encoding Specificity Principle ‘The encoding specificity principle i the final idea abaut retrieval and extrallat cuing voffects we disewss. Tn its broadest form the principle asserts that only that can be re- ‘irieved that haa been stared, and that how it can be retrieved depends am how it was stored. In its move restricted senses, the principle becomes less truistic and hence theoretically imore interesting, For instance, we assume that what is stored about the oc- currence of a word in an experiinetital lst 1s information about the specific encoding of that word an that context that situation. ‘This information may or may nat include the relation that the taryet word has with some other word in the semantic system Tf it does, that other word may be an effec- tive retrieval cue. Tf it does not, the other word ¢annot provide access ta the stored information because: its relation ta the tanget ward is not stored. ‘Thus, the effectiveness of retrieval cues depends on the properties of the trace af the word event in the eplondie system, Tt is independent of the aemmritie properties of ithe word except insofar as these properties were enceded as a part of the trace of the event. The distinction between semantic characteristics of words ag lexical units and words as to-be-remembered events can be readily demonstrated with homographs—for instance, if viowet fs encocled and sored as a color name, it normally cannot be re- triewad as an instance of the estegory of flowers, or girls” names—but the same prin. ciple presumably holds for all verbal items. ‘The cue tude facilitates recall of the target word crare if the original encoding of coat asa to-hé-renenibered ward inelaced seman ie Information of the kin’ that defines the relation between two chjects in the sme conceptual category, Most intelligent sab- jects in episodic memory experinents rou- 359 tnely encode to-be-remembered words se- mandeally, and hence words measlaglilly related to target items will serve as effective retrieval cues, A recent application of the encoding speci- ficity principle to the interpretation of effec. tiveness of retrieval cues appeared ina study by Tulving and Osler (1968); one of its mare interesting implications was explicitly tested in three experiments by Thomson and Tulving (1970); ond its bearing on results from intralist cuing experiments has been discussed by Postinan (1972), Since the prlnekple asserts that it 4a the enceded trace of the target word rather than the character- istics of the target word in semantic memory that determines the effectiveness of extralist retrieval cues, as well ns all other cues, it can be experimentally contrasted with thea- ries that attribute the effectiveness of extra- list cues to their preexperimental relatinns with target words, Such contrasts, how- ever, are possible only under spesial conditions. Logie af Experimental Comparison berswern Theories ‘The main difference between the genera- ton-recognition models of retrieval and the encnding specificity principle that is subject to test lies in the encoding stage of an item's processing as the locus af the effect nf ences, Asarding lo the geieration-recognition modela the encoding stage is not important, as long as it does not disturh the capacity of the extralist eve to produce the target item as un implicit response, According to the encoding specificity principle, the target Item must be encoded in some sort of reference to the cue for the cue to be effective, Both theories can account equaliy well for the finding that a given cuc in fact is effec- tive, Thus, for instance, if table does faeili- tate the recall of the target word crate, ES ia possible that an implicit response “chair™ mare tn the cue at retrieval ancl uhaequently recognized, Tris also possible that the target CHAIR was semantically encoded at the time of presentation in a specific way that ren- dered the cue word ¢able effective. Experi. ments in which specific encoding conditions