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A diary after dinner: How the time of event recording influences later accessibility of diary events

Szőllősi, Á, Keresztes, A, Conway, M. A. & Racsmány, M. (2015). A diary after dinner: How the time of event recording influences later accessibility of diary events. Quarterly Journal of Experimental Psychology, 68(11), pp. 2119-2124. doi: 10.1080/17470218.2015.1058403


The Experimental Psychology Society. Recording the events of a day in a diary may help improve their later accessibility. An interesting question is whether improvements in long-term accessibility will be greater if the diary is completed at the end of the day, or after a period of sleep, the following morning. We investigated this question using an internet-based diary method. On each of five days, participants (n = 109) recorded autobiographical memories for that day or for the previous day. Recording took place either in the morning or in the evening. Following a 30-day retention interval, the diary events were free recalled. We found that participants who recorded their memories in the evening before sleep had best memory performance. These results suggest that the time of reactivation and recording of recent autobiographical events has a significant effect on the later accessibility of those diary events. We discuss our results in the light of related findings that show a beneficial effect of reduced interference during sleep on memory consolidation and reconsolidation.

Publication Type: Article
Publisher Keywords: Time of day effect; Retrieval; Autobiographical memory; Accessibility; Sleep
Subjects: B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BF Psychology
Departments: School of Health & Psychological Sciences > Psychology
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