In the present study, the effect of memory suppression on subsequent perceptual processing of visual objects was examined within a modified think/no-think paradigm. Suppressing memories of visual objects significantly impaired subsequent perceptual identification of those objects when they were briefly encountered (Experiment 1) and when they were presented in noise (Experiment 2), relative to performance on baseline items for which participants did not undergo suppression training. However, in Experiment 3, when perceptual identification was performed on mirror-reversed images of to-be-suppressed objects, no impairment was observed. These findings, analogous to those showing forgetting of suppressed words in long-term memory, suggest that suppressing memories of visual objects might be mediated by direct inhibition of perceptual representations, which, in turn, impairs later perception of them. This study provides strong support for the role of inhibitory mechanisms in memory control and suggests a tight link between higher-order cognitive operations and perceptual processing.
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