Roediger wins Warren Medal for contributions to experimental psychology

The Society of Experimental Psychologists has awarded its highest honor to Henry L. “Roddy” Roediger III, Ph.D., an internationally recognized scholar of human memory and the James S. McDonnell Distinguished University Professor in Arts & Sciences at Washington University in St. Louis.

Henry “Roddy” Roediger

Citing “his creative experimental investigations of false memory and its underlying processes that have led to a new understanding of human memory,” the Society presented Roediger with its Howard Crosby Warren Medal at an annual meeting April 11-12, in Bloomington, Ind.

Founded in 1904, the Society is an honorary elected group of about 200 psychologists. Members select one person each year to receive the Warren Medal for “outstanding recent work in experimental psychology.” Four Warren Medal winners have gone on to win the Nobel Prize.

In his award address, Roediger credited his many research collaborators, especially Kathleen McDermott, Ph.D., an associate professor of psychology at Washington University, who helped create the Deese-Roediger-McDermott paradigm, a powerful experimental tool for studying human memory.

Using the paradigm, which is based on earlier work by James Deese, researchers can, on demand and under tightly controlled laboratory conditions, lead healthy adults to recall with clarity items and events that never happened. Study participants typically recall non-presented items at a rate similar to presented items and also claim not only to know that these items were presented but also to vividly remember their moment of presentation.

In its presentation, the Society credited Roediger and colleagues for pursuing Deese’s early, but largely ignored discovery of interesting verbal intrusions in human recall.

Roediger’s work, they concluded, “has become a central thrust in the study of false memory — one of the most exciting and important new areas of research in cognitive psychology and cognitive neuroscience in the last 30 years.”

Roediger joined Washington University in 1996 as chair of the Department of Psychology in Arts & Sciences, a position he held until 2004, when he was named to his current position as dean of academic planning in Arts & Sciences.