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What Is Episodic Memory In Psychology

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Cognition Lecture 5 4 Encoding/Retrieval Interactions in Episodic Memory

Following the introduction of the concept of episodic memory in 1972, much research has focused on how to distinguish episodic memory from other cognitive functions in general, and in particular from other forms of memory, at both the functional and neural levels. Given the widespread connections of the HPC and its position in the component process model, the isolation and encapsulation of episodic memory could not be sustained. The last decade has seen an imperialist encroachment of episodic memory and the HPC into various domains, from perception to imagination, and from decision making to food regulation . We highlight four of these domains and consider how they relate to our model .

Rs Associated With Memory

Sometimes it happens, people fail to make memories. This means that they arent able to recognize and recall things even which took place a few seconds earlier. It is mostly seen in the rare case of Herpes Encephalitis, a viral infection. The Central nervous system is ravaged and is among the profound cases of amnesia.

Our memories account a lot in our lives to help us connect our past to the present. Hence, the learning process is summed up eventually to bring about a desired interactive effect. Memories are like not all or nothing things. Despite not able to recall recently processed memories, a person suffering from encephalitis may remember how to eat, what to speak and how to sketch.

Few of the memories store differently and gets into you through automated work processes you go through. Memory is defined to be the learning that has become persistent over time, stored and can be recalled. To access your memory, you need to consider 3Rs. These are recall, recognition and relearning.

Where Are Episodic Memories Stored

Episodic memories go through many parts of the brain before they end up in long-term memory storage. Sensory memory about experiences is always being collected. The eyes, ears, skin, nose, and mouth are constantly feeding information to the brain.

From there, short-term memories are stored in the hippocampus. Experts believe that the hippocampus works as a shipping center. Sensory information and emotional memory are packaged together in a way that could form episodic memories as we know them. When you recall the episodes of your life, you likely remember how you felt to live them. You remember the relief of finding your dog after he had been lost for many days, or the sadness of realizing your partner was breaking up with you. The hippocampus plays a big role in recognizing, storing, and recalling our emotions.

However, the hippocampus is just a place for shipping short-term memories out to other areas of the brain. Experts believe episodic memories are shipped out to the neocortex.

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Impact Of Episodic Memory

Researchers have found that episodic memory can also be interdependent with semantic memory. On learning tasks, participants performed better when new information was aligned with prior knowledge, suggesting that semantic knowledge of a task provides a sort of framework for new episodic learning.

Participants were asked to remember the prices of grocery items. Those in the control group were better able to remember these prices when the new information was congruent with their existing episodic memories of grocery prices.

Amnesiac participants in the experimental group, however, performed much worse at remembering new information because they did not have access to episodic information from their past.

Conversely, researchers have also found that episodic memories also play a role in the retrieval of semantic memories. In experiments where participants were asked to generate lists of items in particular categories, those who were able to rely on episodic memories performed better than amnesiac participants who did not have access to episodic memories.

Studies also suggest that there are sex differences in episodic memory. Research has found, for example, that women tend to outperform men on tests of episodic memory function, particularly on verbal-based episodic memory. Studies also show that women are able to access these memories faster and date them more accurately than men.

Episodic Memory In Nonhuman Animals


There exists essentially universal agreement among all practitioners of the science of memory that many species other than humans possess highly developed semantic memory systems. These allow them to acquire complex and intricate knowledge of various sorts about their own ecological niches of the world.

Whether or not species other than humans possess episodic memory depends on how episodic memory is defined. If the definition is given along the lines of the properties of episodic memory that are shared with semantic memory, then the answer to the question is definitely positive. However, in terms of the extended definition, including both the shared and unique lists, the answer is negative–other species probably do not possess the kind of episodic memory that humans do. At least, we are not aware of any findings that unequivocally attribute autonoetic consciousness to nonhuman animals .

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All Our Different Types Of Memories

Our memories are important: they make us who we are and allow us to actively participate in the world around us. Memory is also incredibly complex, involving many regions and systems within the brain to process and remember different types of information. The memory you have for how to tie a shoelace, for example, involves different regions of the brain compared to the memory of how you spent your birthday last year.

Broadly speaking, we can categorise different types of memories based on how the information is stored or based on how it is remembered and expressed in our behaviour .

Examples Of Episodic Memories

Some examples of episodic memories might include:

  • What happened on your recent trip to Disneyland
  • Where you were when you learned that a loved one had died
  • Your old cell phone number
  • Your first day at your job
  • Your first date with your partner

Remember, each person’s episodic memory of an event is entirely unique. Even other people who shared the same experience may have different recollections of what happened.

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Pharmacological Enhancement Of Episodic Memory

In healthy adults, longterm visual episodic memory can be enhanced specifically through administration of the Acetylcholine esterase inhibitor Donepezil, whereas verbal episodic memory can be improved in persons with the val/val genotype of the val158met polymorphism through administration of the CNS penetrant specific catecholamine-O-methyltransferase inhibitor Tolcapone. Furthermore, episodic memory is enhanced through AZD3480 a selective agonist at the neuronal alpha4beta2 nicotinic receptor, which is developed by the company Targacept. Currently, there are several other products developed by several companies – including new catecholamine-O-methyltransferase inhibitors with fewer side effects – that aim for improving episodic memory.

The Human Medial Temporal Lobe Episodic Memory System

Cognition Lecture 5 2 Encoding in Episodic Memory: Levels of Processing

Since the 1990s, positron emission tomography and functional magnetic resonance imaging experiments have demonstrated the activation of the hippocampal formation and other MTL regions during the performance of episodic memory tasks. It is important to point out that the activation of a brain region as detected with functional neuroimaging methods is relative, as functional neuroimaging measures obtained during task performance are typically compared with measures obtained during a control condition, thus identifying relatively greater activity in one condition than another. Furthermore, co-registration techniques that are usually required to align data from multiple subjects to each other are imperfect but continue to be improved . From a conceptual standpoint, given the variability of MTL subregion size and shape between subjects, some investigators prefer to localize fMRI data at the individual subject level first and then perform statistical analyses, rather than trying to localize activity at the group level after aligning subjects to a template.

Figure 4

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The Relationship Of Episodic Memory To Semantic Memory

Episodic memory is thought of as being a “one-shot” learning mechanism. You only need one exposure to an episode to remember it. Semantic memory, on the other hand, can take into consideration multiple exposures to each referent – the semantic representation is updated on each exposure.

Episodic memory can be thought of as a “map” that ties together items in semantic memory. For example, semantic memory will tell you what a “dog” looks and sounds like. All episodic memories concerning your dog will reference this single semantic representation of “dog” and, likewise, all new experiences with your dog will modify your single semantic representation of your dog.

Some researchers believe that episodic memories are converted from episodic into semantic memories over time. In this process, most of the episodic information about a particular event is generalized and the context of the specific events is lost. One modification of this view is that episodic memories which are recalled often are remembered as a kind of monologue. If you tell and re-tell a story repeatedly, you may feel that you no longer remember the event, but that what you’re recalling is a kind of pre-written story.

Areas Of The Brain Associated With Episodic And Semantic Memory

Episodic memory is a past-oriented memory which will allow you to re-experience the same via the process of recalling. It has several distinct interactive components that allow it to do its task purposely. This whole process can be explained easily through a single term named retrieval. The areas of the brain which are involved in this process are frontal cortices, temporal and parietal region, cerebellum, diencephalon and hippocampus. The process of retrieval can be altered through genetic makeup and regular retaining capacity of an individual.

Semantic memory is stored by the same systems as in episodic memory. These include hippocampal and temporal lobes to encode memories. We have an entorhinal cortex and perirhinal cortex involved in all such tasks. These two cortices are collectively called the Para hippocampal cortex.

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What Are Episodic Memories

Episodic memory is a type of memory that we have personally experienced. When we recall these memories, we can recall where we were, what we were doing, who we were with, how we were feeling, etc. It plays out like an episode on TV or a short scene from a movie. We see the memory from our own perspective.

Episodic Memory: Definition And Examples

Pin on Memory

Episodic memory is a persons unique memory of a specific event, so it will be different from someone elses recollection of the same experience.

Episodic memory is sometimes confused with autobiographical memory, and while autobiographical memory involves episodic memory, it also relies on semantic memory. For example, you know the city you were born in and the date, although you dont have specific memories of being born.

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Semantic Memory Vs Episodic Memory

Episodic memory and semantic memory are two major types of memories that make up part of your long-term memory together they are known as .

While episodic memory is an individuals unique take on a particular episode which will vary from the recollection of others who were at the same event semantic memory is just the facts.

While a bride will recall the date that she was married information that is not in question her remembrances of the event are going to differ from those who attended the ceremony and even from those of the groom.

Researchers have noted that while these two forms of memory are separate, they do not necessarily operate completely independently. In 1972, Endel Tulving of the University of Toronto detailed the differences between episodic and semantic memory in his book, “Elements of Episodic Memory.” He noted that semantic and episodic differ in how they operate and the types of information they process.

Tulving observed that forming a new episodic memory is affected by information in semantic memory. A memory must pass through the semantic memory before it can be cemented into long-term memory as an episodic memory.


Impairments Of Human Episodic Memory

Episodic memory deficits are observed after medial temporal lobe injury which includes important memory structures such as the hippocampus and amygdala , but also after lesions to the frontal cortex and diencephalic structures, such as the mediodorsal thalamus and the mammillary bodies .

Episodic memory impairments have also been demonstrated in the course of healthy aging , the acute phase following mild traumatic brain injury , and in a variety of neuropsychiatric diseases . Furthermore, it seems that episodic memory deficits usually precede more global cognitive impairments associated with neurodegenerative diseases such as AD or PD . Therefore, one can view episodic memory functioning as a highly sensitive indicator or seismograph of incipient brain pathology which manifests well before the full dimension of the disease becomes evident at the psychological and behavioral level.

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Relationship To Semantic Memory

Endel Tulving originally described episodic memory as a record of a person’s experience that held temporally dated information and spatio-temporal relations. A feature of episodic memory that Tulving later elaborates on is that it allows an agent to imagine traveling back in time. A current situation may cue retrieval of a previous episode, so that context that colours the previous episode is experienced at the immediate moment. The agent is provided with a means of associating previous feelings with current situations. Semantic memory, on the other hand, is a structured record of facts, concepts, and skills that we have acquired. Semantic information is derived from accumulated episodic memory. Episodic memory can be thought of as a “map” that ties together items in semantic memory. For example, all encounters with how a “dog” looks and sounds will make up the semantic representation of that word. All episodic memories concerning a dog will then reference this single semantic representation of “dog” and, likewise, all new experiences with the dog will modify the single semantic representation of that dog.

Episodic memory emerges at approximately 3 to 4 years of age. Activation of specific brain areas seems to be different between younger and older people upon episodic memory retrieval. Older people tend to activate both their left and right hippocampus, while younger people activate only the left one.

This Article Is A Part Of The Guide:

Introduction to Episodic Memory
  • 8.9Neuroplasticity
  • The medial temporal lobe and the hippocampus located within are critical parts of forming episodic memories. If we had no medial temporal lobe or it was damaged, we would be able to create procedural memories such as riding a bike but unable to remember when or where we learned to do so.

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    Implicit Vs Explicit Memory

    If procedural and declarative memories are the what of memory, implicit and explicit memories are the how. Implicit memories are those that we remember unconsciously and are expressed in our behaviour in some way. Most of our procedural memories fall into this category.

    Conditioned learning and associative memory are also examples of how implicit memory works. We can see the evidence of these unconscious associations in experiments on priming effects, where exposing someone to a stimulus affects how new information is processed or how tasks are performed. For example, if someone reads a list of words including cooking, food and hot before being asked to complete a four-letter word starting with SO__, they are more likely to say SOUP. Someone primed with words such as bath, clean and bubbles may be more likely to respond with SOAP instead.

    Explicit memories, on the other hand, are those that are consciously remembered. Memories can be recalled, where they are spontaneously retrieved from long-term memory storage, such as when you reminisce about your last travel adventure overseas. Recognition, which requires less effort compared to recall, refers to the sense that youve previously encountered or learned something that you are perceiving in a given momentthat feeling you get when something rings a bell.

    What Type Of Memory Is Episodic Memory

    Episodic memory falls under the larger umbrella of declarative, or explicit memories. Explicit memories are memories that contain factual information. The memory that 2+2=4, for example, is an example of explicit memory. The name of your dog or the birthdate of your grandfather are both explicit memories.

    Implicit memories, on the other hand, are memories of how to perform certain tasks. The knowledge of how to ride a bike or drive a car are both types of implicit memories. The name of your car, or the last place you drove your car, are both explicit memories.

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    What Is Episodic Memory And How Do We Use It

    • Charan Ranganath4Author Footnotes4 Correspondence can be addressed to Charan Ranganath, PhD, UC Davis Center for Neuroscience, 1544 Newton Ct., Davis, CA, 95618 USA.Charan Ranganath ContactFootnotes4 Correspondence can be addressed to Charan Ranganath, PhD, UC Davis Center for Neuroscience, 1544 Newton Ct., Davis, CA, 95618 USA.AffiliationsMemory and Plasticity Program, University of California at Davis, Davis, CA, USACenter for Neuroscience, University of California at Davis, Davis, CA, USADepartment of Psychology, University of California at Davis, Davis, CA, USA
    • Show footnotesHide footnotesAuthor Footnotes4 Correspondence can be addressed to Charan Ranganath, PhD, UC Davis Center for Neuroscience, 1544 Newton Ct., Davis, CA, 95618 USA.

    The Temporal Component Of Episodic Memory

    episodic vs semantic

    A main difference between episodic and semantic memory is that the episodic memories have also a temporal connotation are time-dated or endowed with time-tags such as that something has happened this morning or last summer . However, in humans the perception of time and the assessment of the duration of events are not represented on a linear time scale . In this regard, Friedman speaks of a chronological illusion, and proposes that the memory for time is rather reconstructive and inferential in nature.

    We have proposed that temporal information is either stored as succession or order information relative to other events already stored in episodic memory or is reconstructed during the recall processes using anchor events . It is reasonable to assume that the temporal context of a particular event is either encoded in relation to, or inferred from its occurrence before or after, other anchor events. One of which is proximal in terms of just preceding or following the event to be temporally specified, whereas the other is more distal that is the anchor event stands at the beginning or end of a larger sequence of events centered by the event to be temporally specified. The when component of an episodic memory can thus be operationalized by successively presenting two or more distinct events and by probing whether the participants are able to remember their order of occurrence .

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