Interference Effects on Procedural Memory An Assessment of Problem-Solving Task Performance

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Samuel Birkholz
Eric Hessler
Michael Root


Three experiments were conducted assessing interference effects acting on procedural task learning and performance using the Tower of Hanoi puzzle as the target procedural task. Experiment 1 found that participants in the no retroactive interference (RI) group completed the Tower of Hanoi task faster than the RI groups, with no differences between the type of the tactile interference. These results indicate that RI may hinder procedural task performance, but does not differentiate between consolidation and retrieval. Experiment 2 addressed RI placement by manipulating the delay prior to the interference task. Subsequent analyses suggested that interfering with only consolidation or recall does not produce interference effects, but qualitative feedback regarding emotion raised further questions about the effects of affect induction. Experiment 3 attempted to address the influence of a proactive and retroactive affect induction technique, but was unsuccessful in producing a dichotomous happy versus neutral effect. However, it was noted that alertness changed across the task acquisition stage, and the change in alertness may account for enhanced procedural memory acquisition. Overall, the series of experiments conducted provides conceptual replication of some previous research while contradicting other findings. This research not only extends our current understanding but also highlights the need to replicate research and continue to explore factors that may influence the practice or acquisition of novel procedural tasks.


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Article Details

Procedural learning, Interference, Consolidation, Recall, Affect, Tower of Hanoi
How to Cite
Birkholz, S., Hessler, E., & Root, M. (2023). Interference Effects on Procedural Memory: An Assessment of Problem-Solving Task Performance. Graduate Student Journal of Psychology, 21.