Book Definition: A technique for cuing implicit memories by providing cues that stimulate a memory without awareness of the connection between the cue and the retrieved memory. (pg 253)

In Your Own Words

  • Influencing someone's answers by putting an object in their memory so they can recall upon what was said rather than the real answer.
  • Providing small "hints" that will make someone answer a certain way.
  • The influence towards a stimulus from previous cues: "setting them up" for an answer.
  • A method for making a stimulus more likely to be remembered/recognized in the future.
  • Providing cues to help a memory without realizing the connection.
  • Prompt someone before hand on how you want them to think the answer is, even though it could be wrong.


  • When a person reads a list of words including the word apple, and is later asked to complete a word that starts with app, they are likely to put apple.
  • Say "fork" 20 times. Now what do you eat soup(cereal) with? Normally, without thinking, people will say a fork instead of a spoon.
  • After hearing the words "pop", "drop", "cop" and "mop", when asked what you do at a green light, you will likely reply "stop", even though you know that at a green light you actually go.
  • Showing an incomplete sentence, and slowly filling in the spaces to a person. Later on, if the incomplete sentence is shown again, this person will be able to recognize the sentence quicker than before.
  • Say "silk" five times. What do cows drink? The person answering the question is likely to say milk even though they know cows make milk, they don't drink it.
  • Say "yolk and folk" 10 times. Then ask the person to say what the white of an egg is called. They will say yolk even though that is not what its called.
  • Saying numbers that add/multiply/subtract/divide to give you the number ten. Do this about ten times, then ask them what an aluminum can is made out of. They will probably say that the can is made out of tin when it is actually aluminum.
  • If I say the words dream, bed, night, tired, late, and ask you to remember the words that I said and one of the word's that you list is sleep even though it wasn't on the list of words that I said.


An experiment was done by Daniel Schacter ( NOT of the two-factor theory) in 1996 about how humans use different parts of their brains to recall different types of memories. He had two groups of volunteers look over and learn a list of familiar words. Then, he would ask the volunteers in one group to remember the words by giving them 3 letter cues (implicit memory) and for the other group, he had them recall the words as best as they could from their studying without any help (explicit memory). Schacter used PET scanning techniques (aka radioactive sugars put into the brain) to observe which pathways of the brain around the hippocampus had the most activity going on for either type of memory recall.

Schacter found that there was no activity in the hippocampal region of the brain when the memories were recalled with the 3 letter cues but he also noted that the priming effects that were in place on the explicit memory test decreased activity in the visual area of the brain (occipital lobe). The participants in the explicit memory test however, recalled many of the words in the first trial but less in the second even though they tried to remember the words. Schacter found that for studied words or explicit recall, blood flow increased in the hippocampus while for cues given to "remember" words, blood flow increased in the frontal lobes.

Schacter, D. L., Alpert, N. M., Savage, C. R., Rauch, S. L., & Albert, M. S. (1996). Conscious recollection and the human hippocampal formation: evidence from positron emission tomography. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 93(1), 321-325.

Additional Resources