The impact of selective attention and action on episodic memory

Laurent, Xavier (2013) The impact of selective attention and action on episodic memory. PhD thesis, Prifysgol Bangor University.

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In 1972, Endel Tulving coined the term “episodic memory”, with reference to the process used to link the many different types of information constituting an event into a spatio-temporal context, which can be retrieved later. In this thesis I investigate what type of information is encoded in episodic memory while performing selective attention and action tasks. Over seven experiments, I look at the impact of various experimental conditions on the recall accuracy (free, recognition and cue) of episodic memory that includes object identity, spatial and temporal recall, since only very few studies have considered these three components together. My approach is novel as most other studies have used traditional attention experimental tasks to understand how information is selected. Specifically, I use episodic-like memory tests to dissociate the impact of active and passive encoding states on memory, which in turn allows me to observe the phenomenon of distractor suppression encountered during the retrieval of previously encoded information. In general, results across several experimental conditions strongly indicate that memory superiority under passive mode could be related to the incidental encoding of irrelevant information. This effect is mostly found when memory is immediately tested (short delay) and disappears some time later following a retroactive interference task. Distractors competing for an action receive a stronger suppression than those, which are not. The results are in agreement with selective attention studies, which suggest that distractors prevent from becoming the target of the action. The results highlight the role of action on episodic encoding, demonstrating that using an active state of encoding does not increase the amount of information to encode (enhancement of targets), but reduces the numbers of non-relevant information stored in this trace (suppression of distractors).

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Subjects: Degree Thesis
Departments: College of Arts and Humanities > School of Creative Studies and Media
Degree Thesis
Date Deposited: 20 Aug 2015 15:15
Last Modified: 13 Jan 2017 12:19
URI: http://e.bangor.ac.uk/id/eprint/5235
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