The reminding effect: Presentation of associates enhances memory for related words in a list

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

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


One aspect of successful cognition is the efficient use of prior relevant knowledge in novel situations. Remindings-stimulus-guided retrievals of prior events-allow us to link prior knowledge to current problems by prompting us to retrieve relevant knowledge from events that are distant from the present. Theorizing in research on higher cognition makes much use of the concept of remindings, yet many basic mnemonic consequences of remindings are untested. Here we consider implications of reminding-based theories of the effects of repetition on memory (Benjamin & Tullis, 2010; Hintzman, 2011). Those theories suggest that the spacing of repeated presentations of material benefits memory when the later experience reminds the learner of the earlier one. When applied to memory for related, rather than repeated, material, these theories predict a reminding effect: a mnemonic boost caused by a nearby presentation of a related item. In 7 experiments, we assessed this prediction by having learners study lists of words that contained related word pairs. Recall performance for the first presentation in related pairs was higher than for equivalent items in unrelated pairs, while recognition performance for items in related pairs did not differ from those in unrelated pairs. Remindings benefit only the recollection of the retrieved episodes.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1526-1540
Number of pages15
JournalJournal of Experimental Psychology: General
Issue number4
StatePublished - Aug 2014


  • Lag effect
  • Reminding
  • Spacing effect
  • Study-phase retrieval

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
  • General Psychology
  • Developmental Neuroscience


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