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Could direct and generative retrieval be two flips of the same coin? A dual-task paradigm study

Gatti, Daniele; Somos, Eszter; Mazzoni, Giuliana; Jellema, Tjeerd


Daniele Gatti

Eszter Somos

Giuliana Mazzoni


Autobiographical memories are thought to be retrieved using two possible ways: a generative one, which is effortful and follows a general-to-specific pathway, and a direct one, which is automatic and relatively effortless. These two retrieve processes are known to differ on the quantitative side (especially considering retrieval times), from a qualitative point of view; however, evidence is missing. Here, we aimed to disentangle this question by taking advantage of a dual-task paradigm in which the different tasks tax different executive functions. Participants were asked to perform an autobiographical memory task under three different conditions: no cognitive load, non-visual cognitive load and visual cognitive load. On the quantitative side, results replicated previous findings with generative processes being slower compared with direct ones. Conversely, on the qualitative side, results indicated that the retrieval times of both direct and generative retrieval processes varied similarly according to the dual-task condition, thus supporting the idea that the same memory process could underlie both retrievals.


Gatti, D., Somos, E., Mazzoni, G., & Jellema, T. (2022). Could direct and generative retrieval be two flips of the same coin? A dual-task paradigm study. Cognitive processing, 23(3), 513-519.

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date Apr 19, 2022
Online Publication Date Jun 15, 2022
Publication Date Aug 1, 2022
Deposit Date Jul 5, 2022
Publicly Available Date Jun 16, 2023
Journal Cognitive Processing
Print ISSN 1612-4782
Electronic ISSN 1612-4790
Publisher Springer Verlag
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 23
Issue 3
Pages 513-519
Keywords Direct retrieval; Generative retrieval; Autobiographical memory; Divided attention; Visual search task
Public URL


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