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Temporarily Unavailable: Memory Inhibition in Cognitive and Computer Science

Tobias Tempel; Claudia Niederée; Christian Jilek; Andrea Ceroni; Heiko Maus; Yannick Runge; Christian Frings
In: Interacting with Computers, Vol. iwz013, Pages 1-19, Oxford University Press, 5/2019.


Inhibition is one of the core concepts in Cognitive Psychology. The idea of inhibitory mechanisms actively weakening representations in the human mind has inspired a great number of studies in various research domains. In contrast, Computer Science only recently has begun to consider concepts such as digital forgetting or suppression of irrelevant information to complement activation and highlighting of relevant information. Here, we review psychological research on inhibition in memory and link the gained insights with the current efforts and opportunities in Computer Science of incorporating inhibitory principles for reducing information overload and improving information retrieval in Personal Information Management. Four common aspects guide this review in both domains: (i) the purpose of inhibition to increase processing efficiency; (ii) its relation to activation; (iii) its links to contexts; (iv) its temporariness. In summary, the principle of suppressing information has been used by Computer Science for enhancing software in some ways already. Yet, we consider how novel methods for reducing information overload can be inspired by a more systematic involvement of the inhibition concept.


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