Remindings influence the interpretation of ambiguous stimuli

Jonathan G. Tullis, Michael Braverman, Brian H. Ross, Aaron S. Benjamin

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Remindings-stimulus-guided retrievals of prior events-may help us interpret ambiguous events by linking the current situation to relevant prior experiences. Evidence suggests that remindings play an important role in interpreting complex ambiguous stimuli (Ross & Bradshaw Memory & Cognition, 22, 591-605, 1994); here, we evaluate whether remindings will influence word interpretation and memory in a new paradigm. Learners studied words on distinct visual backgrounds and generated a sentence for each word. Homographs were preceded by a biasing cue on the same background three items earlier, preceded by a biasing cue on a different background three items earlier, or followed by a biasing cue on the same background three items later. When biasing cues preceded the homographs on the same backgrounds as the homographs, the meanings of the homographs in learner-generated sentences were consistent with the biasing cues more often than in the other two conditions. These results show that remindings can influence word interpretation. In addition, later memory for the homographs and cues was greater when the meaning of the homograph in the sentence was consistent with the earlier biasing cue, suggesting that remindings enhanced mnemonic performance. Remindings play an important role in how we interpret ambiguous stimuli and enhance memory for the involved material.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)107-113
Number of pages7
JournalPsychonomic Bulletin and Review
Issue number1
StatePublished - Feb 2014


  • Ambiguity
  • Interpretation
  • Memory
  • Reminding
  • Study phase retrieval

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)


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