Attentional influences on memory formation: A tale of a not-so-simple story
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Is there a learning mechanism triggered by mere expectation violation? Is there some form of memory enhancement inherent to an event mismatching our predictions? Across seven experiments, we explore this issue by means of a validity paradigm. Although our manipulation clearly succeeded in generating an expectation and breaking it, the memory consequences of that expectation mismatch are not so obvious. We report here evidence of a null effect of expectation on memory formation. Our results (1) show that enhanced memory for unexpected events is not easily achieved and (2) call for a reevaluation of previous accounts of memory enhancements based on prediction error or difficulty of processing. Limitations of this study and possible implications for the field are discussed in detail.
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