Master's Theses

Date of Award

Spring 1958

Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)




Committee Chair


In this paper an attempt was made to show that forgetting is caused by interfering activities in time and not by time as such. To demonstrate this the many studies concerning the effects of interpolated activities on learning were investigated. These findings were interpreted in terms of an interference theory of forgetting and a perseveration theory of learning. The many studies involving retroactive inhibition seem to support the idea of a perseverating action in the neural tissues of the brain even after the overt learning process has come to an end. When this perseverating activity is allowed to continue without interference, cellular changes occur thereby allowing memory to become permanent. There is evidence presented also which suggests that forgetting is greatest when the interpolated activity and the original learning activity involve the use of the same receptor. Because the use of a specific receptor excites neural activity in a particular area of the brain, it was suggested that forgetting is greatest when a common sense modality is used in the original and interpolated learning, because the neural activity in both cases is concentrated in the same area of the brain. As a result forgetting is increased because of the interference, which prevents the memory trace from becoming established by disrupting the reverberating circuits.


Copyright 1958 Merril W. Hergert


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