Two experiments used a dual task methodology to investigate the role of visual imagery and executive resources in the retrieval of specific autobiographical memories. In Experiment 1, dynamic visual noise led to a reduction in the number of specific memories retrieved in response to both high and low imageability cues, but did not affect retrieval times. In Experiment 2, irrelevant pictures reduced the number of specific memories but only in response to low imageability cues. Irrelevant pictures also increased response times to both high and low imageability cues. The findings are in line with previous work suggesting that disrupting executive resources may impair generative, but not direct, retrieval of autobiographical memories. In contrast, visual distractor tasks appear to impair access to specific autobiographical memories via both the direct and generative retrieval routes, thereby highlighting the potential role of visual imagery in both pathways.
Anderson, R. J., Dewhurst, S. A., & Dean, G. M. (2017). Direct and generative retrieval of autobiographical memories : the roles of visual imagery and executive processes. Consciousness and cognition, 49, 163-171. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.concog.2017.02.010