Altering access to autobiographical episodes with prior semantic knowledge

Signy Sheldon, Sarah Peters, Louis Renoult

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Within autobiographical knowledge, semantic and episodic memory are traditionally considered separate, but newer models place them along a continuum, which raises the possibility of an intermediate form of knowledge - personal semantics. This study tested how different types of semantics – general semantics and two forms of personal semantics – impact access to personal episodic memories. In two experiments, participants made a series of true/false judgments about a prime statement, which reflected a general semantic fact, a context-dependent (e.g., repeated event) or context-independent (e.g., trait), personal semantic fact and then retrieved a specific past episodic memory. There was a significantly stronger priming effect for accessing specific episodic memories after judging personal semantic facts versus general facts. We also found that context-dependent and -independent personal semantic facts had separable priming effects on episodic memory. These findings support a continuum model of memory and verifies that there are multiple forms of personal knowledge.
Original languageEnglish
Article number103039
JournalConsciousness and Cognition
Early online date18 Nov 2020
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2020

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