Oram MW & MacLeod M (2001) Remembering to forget: Modelling inhibitory and competitive mechanisms in human memory. CogSci 2001: 23rd Annual Conference of the Cognitive Science Society, Edinburgh, 01.08.2001-04.08.2001. http://conferences.inf.ed.ac.uk/cogsci2001/poster-1.html
Given the importance attached to memory in everyday life, the inability to recall items on demand can be problematic. An apparently ironic phenomenon has been identified, however, which suggests that in addition to retrieving desired memories, the act of remembering inhibits or suppresses related memories. We show here that a competitive model, designed to investigate the development of the cortical visual system, provides an explanation for the suppression of some memories as a consequence of remembering others. We confirm a number of specific predictions based on our model as to when retrieval-induced forgetting effects should or should not occur. The model suggests that the mechanisms by which memories are formed and adapted may also underlie retrieval-induced forgetting effects. In addition to having important practical implications, the model provides a theoretical base for the transfer of theories and ideas between two separate levels (cortical processing and memory formation and adaptation) of understanding brain function.