Context-dependent memory effects in two immersive virtual reality environments: On Mars and underwater

Yeon Soon Shin, Rolando Masís-Obando, Neggin Keshavarzian, Riya Dáve, Kenneth A. Norman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

25 Scopus citations


The context-dependent memory effect, in which memory for an item is better when the retrieval context matches the original learning context, has proved to be difficult to reproduce in a laboratory setting. In an effort to identify a set of features that generate a robust context-dependent memory effect, we developed a paradigm in virtual reality using two semantically distinct virtual contexts: underwater and Mars environments, each with a separate body of knowledge (schema) associated with it. We show that items are better recalled when retrieved in the same context as the study context; we also show that the size of the effect is larger for items deemed context-relevant at encoding, suggesting that context-dependent memory effects may depend on items being integrated into an active schema.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)574-582
Number of pages9
JournalPsychonomic Bulletin and Review
Issue number2
StatePublished - Apr 2021

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)


  • Context-dependent memory effect


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