Encyclopedia of Animal Cognition and Behavior

Living Edition
| Editors: Jennifer Vonk, Todd Shackelford

Retroactive Interference

  • Paula Alfonso-Arias
  • Susana Carnero-SierraEmail author
Living reference work entry
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-319-47829-6_1830-1



Retroactive interference arises when a new learning affects a previous recall. For instance, in an experimental procedure, a list of words, A, is presented. After that, a new list, B, is shown. Retroactive interference comes when the learning of the new list (B) affects the recall of the list first presented (A).


A common and annoying effect in learning is when new data modify previous information. For example, a pregraduate student is sometimes confused when he/she needs to study two lessons, one after the other. When the student tries to remember the first lesson, it is possible that the information of the second lesson interrupts the learning of the first lesson. This situation is clearly stated and summarized in Fig. 1.
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Copyright information

© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Universidad de OviedoOviedoSpain

Section editors and affiliations

  • Valerie Dufour
    • 1
  1. 1.Cognitive and Social Ethology TeamCNRSStrasbourgFrance