Encyclopedia of Clinical Neuropsychology

2018 Edition
| Editors: Jeffrey S. Kreutzer, John DeLuca, Bruce Caplan

Retroactive Interference

  • Jill B. RichEmail author
Reference work entry
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-319-57111-9_1151


Retroactive interference refers to conditions in which new learning interferes with old learning. Forgetting may be due to decay, a failure to reinstate the context of initial learning, or interference. Retroactive (new learning interferes with old) is contrasted with proactive (old interferes with new) interference. Interference increases with similarity between the learning conditions. In paired-associate learning, for example, individuals learn to associate word pairs consisting of a stimulus and a target (e. g., desk-sky or A-B). A second learning trial that introduces new targets to the original stimulus words (e. g., desk-plate or A-C) leads to impaired recall of the original A-B pair relative to a control condition in which A-B learning is followed by rest or by pairs with different stimulus words (C-D). In everyday life, retroactive interference is apparent when recently obtained knowledge overrides recall of previous information about a person, event, situation, or...

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Further Reading

  1. Ashcraft, M. H. (2006). Cognition (4th ed.). Upper Saddle River: Pearson Prentice Hall.Google Scholar
  2. Tulving, E., & Craik, F. I. M. (Eds.). (2000). The Oxford handbook of memory. New York: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing AG, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of PsychologyYork UniversityTorontoCanada