How Memory Is Tested Influences What Is Measured: Reply to Wyble and Chen (2017)

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In this response to Wyble and Chen’s (2017) commentary on attribute amnesia, we hope to achieve several goals. First, we clarify how our view diverges from that described by Wyble and Chen. We argue that because the surprise memory test is disruptive, it is an insensitive tool for measuring the persistence of recently attended target attributes in memory. Second, we identify points of agreement between our view and that of Wyble and Chen. Like them, we believe that the strength of a mental representation is a critical factor in determining whether the representation persists long enough to be used in a surprise recognition task. We also agree that consolidation is one means of strengthening this representation. Finally, we suggest questions that should be addressed to clarify the factors that determine whether attended information can be reported in a surprise memory test.

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