The present studies investigated forgetting processes across 4 weeks of names learned in response to faces. Our theoretical model assumes that there were 4 separate but interdependent aspects to a learned face-name unit. Each of these components (faces, names, face-name connections, and encoding cues to names that are stored during the original learning of names) has different forgetting rates across time. During retrieval, successful matching of faces with names depends on available memories for the first 3 components, whereas available memories for all 4 are necessary for successful recall of names. Results of the first study showed different forgetting curves for the 4 components, particularly the latter 2. Experiments 2 and 3 showed that cues associated with faces that serve as later retrieval cues for the recall of names are forgotten more quickly than face-name connections used to make identifying matches, and there was a very strong relationship between congruent cues at encoding and retrieval and the ability to recall target names after a 4-week interval. These results suggest that a profitable way to look at the learning of faces and names is to look at the components that break apart during forgetting.

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