Context-dependent Recognition Memory
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It is a widespread belief that the ability to recognize information is enhanced when environmental context is reinstated, such as when a witness returns to the scene where a crime was committed in order to enhance their memory of the event. The present study used a new method to examine context-dependent recognition effects by showing a movie clip that involved manipulating the background context. Participants were shown a video clip with various words and background environments and were given a test in order to study whether more words were recognized by the participants when the background scenes changed or remained the same. The movie scenes were either reinstated with the original context, which were referred to as "old words", or with a different context, or "new words". The results support previous studies in favor of context-dependent recognition and show that a higher chance of recognition occurs when individuals are exposed to the information in the same context as they were when it was first encoded into their memory. In practical terms, this study shows that when participants return to the same context, such as the place where an event occurred, they will improve the chance of recognizing information.
Shahabuddin, Shaan S (2010). Context-dependent Recognition Memory. Honors and Undergraduate Research. Available electronically from