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The recovery of blocked memories in repeated recall tests


Dr David R. Gerkens, California State University, PO Box 6846, 800 North State College, Fullerton, CA 92834, USA (e-mail:


There is continued controversy over the possibility of blocked and subsequently recovered accurate memories. Memory blocking produced by a retrieval biasing procedure followed by recovery through repeated testing was demonstrated in two experiments. Predictions derived from the retrieval bias explanation and from the level of cumulative recall (LOCR) concerning hypermnesia for blocked material were tested. Expt 1 disconfirmed the retrieval bias hypothesis that the blocked material would remain blocked. However, there was no accelerated recovery despite the lower rate of recall for the bias group compared to the control group as predicted based on LOCR. Expt 2 replicated the Expt 1 findings and used metamemory tasks to further explore the recovery process. The data led the authors to conclude that accurate recovery of memory with corresponding high confidence is possible through repeated testing provided suggestive questioning and misinformation are not presented.

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