Definition: A cause of forgetting by which newly learned information prevents retrieval of previously stored material.

Quite Simply


  • New information gets in the way and makes it harder to remember old information.
  • You don't remember old information because of a surplus of new information.
  • Occurs when previously learned information is lost because it is mixed up with new and somewhat similar information.
  • "Out with the old, in with the new"
  • New memories get in the way of old memories.
  • Proactive Old blocks Retroactive New blocks (PO RN)

Examples of Retroactive Interference


  • In school, you are less likely to remember the material from the beginning of the year than that from the end of the year.
  • When you switch from driving a stick shift to an automatic, then you go back to driving a stick shift and you forget how to
  • You're in Spanish class and you learn new tenses, and trying to remember the new tenses causes you to forget the old tenses
  • When you create a new password you are likely to to forget the old one.
  • Studying Spanish but forgetting the information because of recent French information learned
  • Using a brand new computer and can't remember how to use old model
  • A teacher forgets the names of his former students that have come to visit his class years after they have graduated because he had to learn the names of his new, current students.
  • You can't remember how you learned how to divide fractions the way your old teacher taught you because your new teacher teaches you a different way to do it.
  • You learned a new song in chorus, and now you can't remember the one from your previous concert.
  • You learned your new cell phone number, and now you can't remember your old one.

See Also

Additional Resources


  1. http://education.calumet.purdue.edu/vockell/EdPsyBook/Edpsy6/edpsy6_forgetting.htm