Poster E90, Monday, March 27, 2:30 – 4:30 pm, Pacific Concourse
Long-term retention of vocabulary in two phonetically similar foreign languages is aided when learning occurs in highly distinctive virtual reality environments
Joey Ka-Yee Essoe1, Niccolo Reggente1, Younji Hera Baek1, Ai Aileen Ohno1, Priyanka Mehta1, Alvin Vuong1, Jesse Rissman1; 1University of California, Los Angeles
The environmental context in which a memory is encoded can impact its later accessibility by virtue of tagging the memory with unique retrieval cues. We examined whether distinctive virtual environments (VEs) could be used as a means to provide contextual support during the learning of two sets of easily confusable stimuli. Specifically, we taught participants the translations of 50 English words in two pre-experimentally unfamiliar languages: 10 were learned only in Swahili, 10 only in Chinyanja, and 30 in both languages. Participants in the Dual Context group learned each language in a different VE, whereas participants in the Single Context group learned both languages in the same VE. On Day 2, after the fourth VE learning session, participants’ ability to recall the Swahili and Chinyanja translations of the English words was tested outside of the VEs. One week later (Day 8), participants were reached by telephone and performed a surprise recall test assessing their long-term retention of the foreign words. Our results revealed that while the Single and Dual Context groups showed comparable recall performance when tested on Day 2, the Dual Context group exhibited significantly reduced forgetting when tested on Day 8. This finding showcases how distinctive learning contexts can protect newly acquired memories from succumbing to excessive interference and promote long-term retention. An additional fMRI dataset collected from a separate group of Dual Context participants during Day 2 cued recall should provide further insights into the mechanisms that underlie their memory advantage.
Topic Area: LONG-TERM MEMORY: Episodic