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Neurocognitive mechanisms of the “testing effect”: A review

Van den Broek, G., Takashima, A., Wiklund-Hörnqvist, C., Karlsson-Wirebring, L., Segers, E., Verhoeven, L., & Nyberg, L. (2016). Neurocognitive mechanisms of the “testing effect”: A review. Trends in Neuroscience Education, 5, 52-66. doi:10.1016/j.tine.2016.05.001.
Memory retrieval is an active process that can alter the content and accessibility of stored memories. Of potential relevance for educational practice are findings that memory retrieval fosters better retention than mere studying. This so-called testing effect has been demonstrated for different materials and populations, but there is limited consensus on the neurocognitive mechanisms involved. In this review, we relate cognitive accounts of the testing effect to findings from recent brain-imaging studies to identify neurocognitive factors that could explain the testing effect. Results indicate that testing facilitates later performance through several processes, including effects on semantic memory representations, the selective strengthening of relevant associations and inhibition of irrelevant associations, as well as potentiation of subsequent learning
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The Max Planck Institute for Psycholinguistics is an institute of the German Max Planck Society. Our mission is to undertake basic research into the psychological,social and biological foundations of language. The goal is to understand how our minds and brains process language, how language interacts with other aspects of mind, and how we can learn languages of quite different types.

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