In today’s lesson we will be looking at a practical way to ensure that you can remember key information when you want and need to.  One of the most powerful memory effects found is referred to as the ‘context reinstatement’ effect. In essence this effect reliably demonstrates that information learned in a specific setting is later remembered significantly better if it is retrieved in the same setting it was learned.  

A classic example of this is known as ‘Baddeley’s divers’. This stems from a 1975 study where researchers Godden and Baddeley worked together with a group of divers [1]. The divers had to encode a set of words either under water or on dry land, and were later asked to retrieve those words again under water or on dry land. This gave a set of congruent and incongruent encoding-retrieval settings, such as encoding and retrieval both taking place under water, or encoding being carried out under water and retrieval taking place on dry land and vice versa. It was found that memory accuracy was significantly higher when learning and retrieval took place in the same location, compared to when a change of setting was introduced. These results have been replicated a number of times, even finding that mentally reinstating the learning setting can be enough to improve recall!

The takeaway message here is to try and learn important information in a location that is either the same as the one you will later have to remember the information in, or make sure that learning takes place in a location that is easy to remember!

Lesson #5 – Try to learn what you need to remember in the same location where you will need to recall the information!

[1] Godden, D.R. & Baddeley, A.D. (1975).
Br J Psychol,. 66, 325-331