Remembering the street names of one's childhood neighborhood: A study of very long-term retention
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Life-span retention of street names was studied in a sample of former students of a Dutch elementary school. Participants were requested to recall the street names of their childhood neighbourhood and indicate their position on a map. In addition, information was gathered concerning (a) the extensiveness of the original learning experience, (b) its elaborateness, and (c) the amount of interference from similar materials occurring between original learning experience and time of recall. Retention intervals varied from 0 to 71 years. Amount of exposure, elaborateness of learning, and retroactive interference all contributed to the memorability of names. In addition, the forgetting curve showed a permastore effect (Bahrick, 1984), suggesting that memory for non-schematic, incidentally learned material is subject to processes of forgetting similar to those that affect intentionally learned material, such as subject-matter acquired in school.