Alcohol-induced retrograde facilitation? Mixed evidence in a preregistered replication and encoding-maintenance-retrieval analysis

Quevedo Pütter, Julian ; Erdfelder, Edgar

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URN: urn:nbn:de:bsz:180-madoc-640010
Document Type: Article
Year of publication: 2022
The title of a journal, publication series: Experimental Psychology
Volume: 69
Issue number: 6
Page range: 335-350
Place of publication: Göttingen
Publishing house: Hogrefe
ISSN: 1618-3169 , 2190-5142
Publication language: English
Institution: Außerfakultäre Einrichtungen > Graduiertenkolleg "Statistical Modeling in Psychology" (SMiP)
School of Social Sciences > Kognitive Psychologie (Seniorprofessur) (Erdfelder 2019-)
Pre-existing license: Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International (CC BY 4.0)
Subject: 150 Psychology
Abstract: Somewhat counterintuitively, alcohol consumption following learning of new information has been shown to enhance performance on a delayed subsequent memory test. This phenomenon has become known as the retrograde facilitation effect (Parker et al., 1981). Although conceptually replicated repeatedly, serious methodological problems are associated with most previous demonstrations of retrograde facilitation. Moreover, two potential explanations have been proposed, the interference and the consolidation hypothesis. So far, empirical evidence for and against both hypotheses is inconclusive (Wixted, 2004). To scrutinize the existence of the effect, we conducted a pre-registered replication that avoided common methodological pitfalls. In addition, we used Küpper-Tetzel and Erdfelder’s (2012) multinomial processing tree (MPT) model to disentangle encoding, maintenance, and retrieval contributions to memory performance. With a total sample size of N = 93, we found no evidence for retrograde facilitation in overall cued or free recall of previously presented word pairs. In line with this, MPT analyses also showed no reliable difference in maintenance probabilities. However, MPT analyses revealed a robust alcohol advantage in retrieval. We conclude that alcohol-induced retrograde facilitation might exist and be driven by an underlying retrieval benefit. Future research is needed to investigate potential moderators and mediators of the effect explicitly.

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