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Placing events in time: The role of autobiographical recollection

journal contribution
posted on 2023-06-07, 18:42 authored by Alex Fradera, Jamie WardJamie Ward
Episodic experience is argued to be rich in temporal information, but it remains unclear whether temporal information is directly coded in the event memory or is reconstructed at retrieval. The two experiments reported here emphasise the role of reconstructive processes of autobiographical context in establishing the date of memories. Younger and older participants were presented with famous public events, although only the latter had actually lived through them. Participants were asked to make forced-choice judgements about the date of the event and other event-related facts. Overall, while the older group showed better fact knowledge of the events, this did not translate into better dating performance. This older group showed similar dating performance across events with high and low factual knowledge. In contrast, the younger group's dating accuracy was determined by their level of knowledge. This suggests that older individuals who have direct episodic experience of an event may perform the task in a qualitatively different manner, eschewing semantic facts in favour of other sources of information. Crucially, this process does not appear to enhance performance. A second experiment addressed the issue of whether older participants date events based on general qualities of the event memory (e.g., vividness), the availability of other event-related semantic facts, or autobiographical context. It was found that the ability to place an event in autobiographical context is related to dating accuracy, but not to other aspects of memory


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