Entering into a self-regulated learning mode prevents detrimental effects of feedback removal on memory

Peter Vavra, Leo Sokolovič, Emanuele Porcu, Pablo Ripollés, Antoni Rodriguez-Fornells, Toemme Noesselt

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Incentives can decrease performance by undermining intrinsic motivation. How such an interplay of external reinforcers and internal self-regulation influences memory processes, however, is less known. Here, we investigated their interaction on memory performance while learning the meaning of new-words from their context. Specifically, participants inferred congruent meanings of new-words from semantic context (congruent trials) or lack of congruence (incongruent trials), while receiving external feedback in the first or second half of trials only. Removing feedback during learning of congruent word meanings lowered subsequent recognition rates a day later, whereas recognition remained high in the group, which received feedback only in the second half. In contrast, feedback did not substantially alter recognition rates for learning that new-words had no congruent meanings. Our findings suggest that external reinforcers can selectively impair memories if internal self-regulated processes are not already established, but whether they do so depends on what is being learned (specific word-meanings vs. unspecific incongruence). This highlights the relevance of self-regulated learning in education to support stable memory formation.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number2
Journalnpj Science of Learning
Issue number1
StatePublished - Dec 2023

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Education
  • Developmental Neuroscience


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