Testing enhances memory for context

Melisa Akan, Sarah E. Stanley, Aaron S. Benjamin

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The beneficial effect of retrieval practice on memory is a well-established phenomenon. Despite the wealth of research on this testing effect, it is unclear whether the benefits of testing extend beyond the tested information to include memory for the context in which the memoranda were encountered. Three experiments examined the effect of testing on memory for context using a standard variant of a traditional item-context memory task, in which cue-target word pairs (the items) were presented on the computer screen in varying locations (the contexts). All experiments revealed an enhancement to memory for context following retrieval practice of the items, regardless of whether that retrieval took place in a neutral (Experiments 1 and 2) or in an interfering (Experiment 3) location. These results support the view that retrieval practice elicits retrieval of relatively comprehensive prior episodes, rather than of only semantic aspects of the prior episodes relevant to the practice cues.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)19-27
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Memory and Language
StatePublished - Dec 2018


  • Context memory
  • Episodic retrieval
  • Testing effect

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuropsychology and Physiological Psychology
  • Language and Linguistics
  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
  • Linguistics and Language
  • Artificial Intelligence


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