chapter  2
Retrieval-induced forgetting: The unintended consequences of unintended forgetting
ByMALCOLM D. MACLEOD, JO SAUNDERS, LAURA CHALMERS
Pages 22

When we are asked to think about memory and how it works we often tend to conceptualize it in terms of what we can remember, how much we can remember, and for how long we can remember it. Even for memory theorists, memory tends to be characterized in terms of its storage capacity, retention capabilities, and the processes underlying these properties (i.e., encoding, storage, and retrieval). Forgetting, in contrast, hardly gets a mention. To some extent, the reason for this is that forgetting is a largely ‘invisible’ phenomenon. Unless we know what we have forgotten, it is difficult to know that we have forgotten it! When we do become aware of weaknesses in our memorial armature, forgetting is typically seen as a nuisance or hindrance – something that should, wherever possible, be avoided. At its most benign, forgetting can be regarded as a ‘blip’ or error in an otherwise smooth-running system; something that happens from time to time when insufficient attention is being paid to what we are doing. At its most insidious, forgetting may irreconcilably alter our awareness of what is current and what is real, and even undermine our concept of self (e.g., in the advanced stages of dementia).