Recently, adaptive memory has gained much attention as it grants the possibility of insights into the ultimate causes of human memory. However, we first need to identify the proximate mechanisms. The aim of the current study was to isolate and measure the effects of encoding styles (functional, novel-survival) on word recall. A quasi-experimental design was used with a 2 x 2 x 2 mixed ANOVA with between and within-subject factors. Participants consisted of 62 adults (36 females and 26 males aged 18-61) divided into two groups for each encoding strategy. Participants were first presented with a visualization context depending on encoding strategy (functional, novel-survival) and prompted by written instructions to visualize 20 words (10 concrete, 10 abstract). Second, a distractor task was completed to prevent imagery to be held in short-term memory. Lastly, a recall task was given. Results confirmed that significantly more words were recalled in the novel-survival group, implying that this encoding strategy has a powerful effect on recall, more so than functional encoding. In the word type condition, we found a higher rate of concrete words recalled than abstract words. No significant effect could be detected between recall and gender. Interestingly, results discovered significant interaction effects between group, gender and word type, suggesting a complex relationship between these variables involved in adaptive memory.
Keywords: adaptive memory, survival encoding, memory enhancement, evolutionary psychology, imagination, visualisation, strategic retrieval, frontal lobe activation. Author keywords: adaptive memory, survival encoding, memory enhancement, evolutionary psychology, imagination, visualisation, strategic retrieval, frontal lobe activation