Suppressing my memories by listening to yours: The effect of socially triggered context-based prediction error on memory

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The mind is a prediction machine. In most situations, it has expectations as to what might happen. But when predictions are invalidated by experience (i.e., prediction errors), the memories that generate these predictions are suppressed. Here, we explore the effect of prediction error on listeners’ memories following social interaction. We find that listening to a speaker recounting experiences similar to one’s own triggers prediction errors on the part of the listener that lead to the suppression of her memories. This effect, we show, is sensitive to a perspective-taking manipulation, such that individuals who are instructed to take the perspective of the speaker experience memory suppression, whereas individuals who undergo a low-perspective-taking manipulation fail to show a mnemonic suppression effect. We discuss the relevance of these findings for our understanding of the bidirectional influences between cognition and social contexts, as well as for the real-world situations that involve memory-based predictions.

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Last updated on 11/11/2018