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The Effect of Odor Familiarity on Context-Dependent Memory
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by Howard C. Levin and Julia F. Heberle - Albright College
Does familiarity of an odor, controlling for appropriateness, have an effect on odorbased context-dependent memory (CDM). Context-dependent memory is the enhancement of memory due to matching contextual cues in encoding and recall situations. This study separates two aspects of the Cue Distinctiveness Principle, familiarity and context appropriateness. College students were asked to learn and recall a list of words in either matching or non-matching conditions under a novel or familiar odor. The results did not show a significant CDM effect. Therefore, the familiarity component of the cue distinctiveness principle is not an adequate explanation for the mixed results of prior odor-based CDM research and thus context appropriateness, not familiarity, may carry the entire explanatory weight of odor-based CDM effects.