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Acta Psychol (Amst). 2015 Jul;159:14-21. doi: 10.1016/j.actpsy.2015.05.004. Epub 2015 May 21.

Novelty's effect on memory encoding.

Author information

1
Department of Cognitive Psychology, VU University Amsterdam, The Netherlands Van der Boechorststraat 1, 1081BT Amsterdam, The Netherlands. Electronic address: m.rangelgomez@vu.nl.
2
Department of Cognitive Psychology, VU University Amsterdam, The Netherlands Van der Boechorststraat 1, 1081BT Amsterdam, The Netherlands. Electronic address: janenaitesigita@gmail.com.
3
Department of Cognitive Psychology, VU University Amsterdam, The Netherlands Van der Boechorststraat 1, 1081BT Amsterdam, The Netherlands. Electronic address: m.meeter@vu.nl.

Abstract

It is often thought that novelty benefits memory formation. However, support for this idea mostly comes from paradigms that are open to alternative explanations. In the present study we manipulated novelty in a word-learning task through task-irrelevant background images. These background images were either standard (presented repeatedly), or novel (presented only once). Two types of background images were used: Landscape pictures and fractals. EEG was also recorded during encoding. Contrary to the idea that novelty aids memory formation, memory performance was not affected by the novelty of the background. In the evoked response potentials, we found evidence of distracting effects of novelty: both the N1 and P3b components were smaller to words studied with novel backgrounds, and the amplitude of the N2b component correlated negatively with subsequent retrieval. We conclude that although evidence from other studies does suggest benefits on a longer time scale, novelty has no instantaneous benefits for learning.

KEYWORDS:

ERP; Encoding; Memory; Novelty

PMID:
26005196
DOI:
10.1016/j.actpsy.2015.05.004
[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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