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The von Restorff Effect
Transcript of The von Restorff Effect
What is the von Restorff Effect?
Hedwig von Restorff (1906–1962)
- a memory process that describes how the distinctiveness of an object, word, idea etc. can affect memory recall
Purpose & Hypothesis
: Amnesics with brain damage to the medial temporal lobe will exhibit a lack of the von Restorff Effect.
Learning through participation: Effects of involvement and anticipation of involvement (by Alan S. Brown and Murray Oxman)
“the effects of actual participation and expectancy concerning participation were examined in a group learning situation”
For each trial, people either read a word aloud or just listened for the word. In addition, they would either be aware that they would be given a word and when, aware of the word but not when, or not aware whether they would be given a word.
When recalled, the immediate test showed that listeners performed better than speakers, and performance declined as participation uncertainty increased. However, these differences disappeared during the final (delayed) recall list.
Considering critical item effects, the immediate test showed a von Restorff effect for speakers under all anticipation conditions and retrograde amnesia under two of the three anticipation conditions.
On final recall test, von Restorff effect persisted but the amnesia didn't.
participation paradigm is a practical one for the production of the von Restorff effect
recall deficits (both overall and item-specific) may be addressed within a momentary arousal framework
The von Restorff effect and induced amnesia: Production by manipulation of sound intensity (by Detterman, Douglas K.)
Described that a distinctive item is remembered better (von Restorff effect) if it appears in a homogenous list of items. Items listed before and after the distinctive item “may be more poorly remembered (induced amnesia) than corresponding items in a control list”
4 experiments with 242 undergraduates which presented a distinctive item as a word being loudly shouted out “among other words presented at normal conversational levels”
2 experiments→ significant retrograde- and anterograde-induced amnesiac effects were verified using a free-recall strategy and recognition task. In both experiments, half of the participants were instructed on what to expect and to create a plan to eliminate the induced amnesia. However, even though the participants were aware, it still did not eliminate the amnesiac effects.
3rd→ "demonstrated an empirical similarity between induced and clinical [diagnosed] amnesia. In clinical retrograde (but not anterograde) amnesia, ‘lost’ memories are sometimes recovered with time." Filled delays of various times (0-120 sec.) incorporated between the presentation of the lists of words and recall demonstrated that the induced retrograde amnesia had disappeared at the longest delay whereas the induced anterograde amnesia had remained the same.
4th→“eliminated some alternate interpretations of the [von Restorff] effect"
Visual Free Recall Memory Task:
On each trial, a series of words will be presented one at a time. At the end of the list, type as many of the words that you can recall in any order.
6 Trials with 10 words each. Each trial will have 2 distinct words in a different color.
Auditory Free Recall Memory Task:
On each trial a series of words will be read one at a time. The target word will be presented in a louder volume compared to the other words. At the end of the list, type as many of the words that you can recall in any order.
6 trials with 10 words each. Each trial will have 2 distinct words spoken in a loud volume.
By using a free recall memory task, the unique words (e. g., words in a different color besides black or words in a louder or softer volume) should be remembered more often in non amnesic patients.
In amnesic patients (patients with medial temporal lobe damage), the unique words will not be remembered more often than control words in a free recall memory task.
Independent Variables and Levels
Black words vs Colored words
Different volumes (loud vs normal volume)
How frequently subjects correctly recall the distinct word
Description of Participants and Participant Number
50 amnesic patients of various ages (18-50)
specifically with medial temporal lobe damage
50 amnesic patients of various ages (18-50)
specifically without medial temporal lobe damage
50 healthy people (control group) of various ages (18-50)
Equipment to be used
Headphones (for auditory task)
For the visual task, participants will be seated in front of the computer for 6 trials. They will be presented with 10 random words each for 5 seconds. Each trial will have a different set of words. Once the words have been presented, participants will be asked to recall in any order the words that they saw.
Trial 1: Apple, dog,
, math, orange, nurse,
, English, banana, hospital
Experimental Procedure (continued)
For the auditory task, participants will be seated in front of the computer with headphones for 6 trials. They will listen to an an audio recording of a list of 10 randomly selected words. Each trial will consist of a new list of 10 random words each presented every 5 seconds. 2 of the 10 words will be distinguished by being spoken in a considerably louder volume (in capital letters) compared to the rest of the words. Once the 10 words have been presented, participants will be asked to recall in any order the words that they heard.
Trial 1: Lemon, rabbit, teacher, ART, shoe, plane, family, CAR, strawberry, school
Lack of understanding on which brain regions are involved in producing the effect that novelty information has on memory.
Most research on novelty neural responses only discuss brain regions
to novel information and do not specify which regions play a significant role in creating the beneficial effect that novelty has on memory.
Research on brain regions involved in the von Restorff effect tended to only account for one form of novelty.
Computer screen (for visual and auditory task)
by Christine Chong, Alli Derr & Alex Malek
The von Restorff effect is everywhere!
(Ex): billboards, magazines, commercials etc.
Advertisers use this memory process each vying to grab your attention and make their audience remember their product and brand over other competitors.
So, if you want to remember something or help somebody else remember something, make it stand out!
Understanding brain regions involved in the von Restorff effect can better help predict course of medical treatment and side effects for particular amnesia damage
(ie) If an amnesic patient used highlighting as a study method prior to damage, doctors could warn them that this technique may no longer work for them and help them find other ways to recall info.
The von Restorff effect in amnesia: the contribution of the hippocampal system to novelty-related memory enhancements (Kishiyama, M. M., Yonelinas, A. P., & Lazzara, M. M. 2004)
The von Restorff Effect relies on explicit memory and involves activation of the hippocampus.
Recognition memory is a form of conscious memory (aka:explicit memory)
The von Restorff effect can play a role in which information is recognized
Hippocampal damage has demonstrated a selective deficit to explicit memory (Scoville & Milner, 1957)
Imaging studies provide a similar pattern as Squire et al., (1992) showed in his study that the hippocampus is highly involved in recall and recognition.
Encoding Specificity : explains how the context of information affects memory recall.
Using weak & strong cues, researchers Thomson & Tulving (1970) found in their experiment that the degree to which the encoding and test context overlap, affects memory recall.
-To see if damaged brain regions in amnesic patients plays a role in the von Restorff effect's on memory
-Patients with selective hippocampal damage will demonstrate reduced novelty effects only on recollection compared to patients with extensive temporal damage who will show deficits in novelty effects in both recollection and familiarity.
-10 healthy control subjects were age-matched with 10 amnesic patients recruited from University of California Davis Medical Center
-Recognition Memory Performance Test:
At Study: 600 items were presented every 850 msc. 60 critical items: 30 novel items and 30 non-novel items which were either in red or yellow. Remaining 540 items appeared in the same color as non-novel items
At Test: 120 items shown. Label word as "recollected", "know" or "new"
- Disruption of novelty effects in amnesic patients was not dependent in the type of amnesia.
-The novelty effect was eliminated in both recognition and familiarity for all amnesic patients. This suggests that the medial temporal lobe may play a critical role in novelty processing and supports previous studies which suggest that the hippocampus and thalamus are sensitive to novelty stimuli.
Short Term recall of order information: Influence of encoding & generation processes on distinctiveness, isolation and background effects (Cunningham)
-Examined influence of encoding and distinctiveness in short term recall of order information
-Mirrored von Restorff experiment with distinctive items embedded in list of
nondistinctive items on same trial
-Control group: Word fragments presented all in black multiple times
-Experimental group: Word fragments presented with two letters in red (priming)
-Next time word set appeared-red letter or random black letter replaced with dash
-Participant asked to guess what the letter was (must guess even if don't know)
-At end of trial, had to recall all letter segments in their order
-Scored correctly when correctly recalled letter in right position
-Compared distinctive remembered letters and nondistinctive remembered letters
: Recall higher for distinctive letters than nondistinctive letters
-Proposed that generation processing enhances distinctiveness effect (von Restorff effect)
-Special extra encoding of distinctive letters could contribute to increased memory
Brown, A. S., & Oxman, M. (1978). Learning through participation: Effects of involvement and anticipation of involvement. The American Journal Of Psychology, 91(3), 461-472. doi:10.2307/1421692
Cunningham, T., Healy, A., & Kole, J. (2005). Short-term recall of order information: Influence of encoding and generation processes on distinctiveness, isolation and background effects. Psychonomic Bulletin & Review, 12(3), 519-523
Detterman, D. K. (1975). The von Restorff effect and induced amnesia: Production by manipulation of sound intensity. Journal Of Experimental Psychology: Human Learning And Memory, 1(5), 614-628. doi:10.1037/0278-73220.127.116.114
Kishiyama, M. M., Yonelinas, A. P., & Lazzara, M. M. (2004). The von Restorff effect in amnesia: The contribution of the hippocampal system to novelty-related memory enhancements. Journal Of Cognitive Neuroscience, 16(1), 15-23. doi:10.1162/089892904322755511
Scoville, W. B., & Milner, B. (1957). Loss of recent memory after bilateral hippocampal lesions. Journal Of Neurology, Neurosurgery & Psychiatry, 2011-21. doi:10.1136/jnnp.20.1.11
Squire, L. R., Ojemann, J. G., Miezin, F. M., Petersen, S. E., Videen, T. O., & Raichle, M. E. (1992). Activation of the hippocampus in normal humans: a functional anatomical study of memory. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, 89(5), 1837–1841.
Thomson, D., & Tulving, E. (1970). Associative encoding and retrieval: Weak and strong cues. Journal of Experimental Psychology, 255-262
Von Restorff, H. (1933). Über die Wirkung von Bereichsbildungen im Spurenfeld (The effects of field formation in the trace field). Psychologie Forschung, 18, 299-34.
: to identify brain regions involved in the von Restorff effect.
Patients will be recruited from various Omaha hospitals.