Forgetting and recovering the unforgettable. Academic Article uri icon


  • Two experiments demonstrated striking, reversible forgetting effects that occurred even for a list of expletives. The experiments used a procedure based on the classic memory mechanisms of interference and retrieval cuing. Interference reduced recall dramatically, although appropriate cues triggered complete recovery. Distinctive, emotionally charged materials were quite susceptible to the forgetting and recovery effects. Thus, powerful forgetting effects can be obtained when participants have no intentions to forget and the materials involved are distinctive, emotional materials with sexual and violent content. This forgetting is reversible with appropriate cues. The false-memory debate can and must be informed by experimental investigations not only of false memories, but also of blocked and recovered memories.

published proceedings

  • Psychol Sci

altmetric score

  • 1

author list (cited authors)

  • Smith, S. M., & Moynan, S. C.

citation count

  • 15

complete list of authors

  • Smith, Steven M||Moynan, Sarah C

publication date

  • May 2008