What's in an Association? The Relationship Between Similarity and Episodic Memory for Associations

AbstractWhen two events occur closely in time, an "association'" exists between memories for those events. When a pair of associated events is semantically similar, it is easier to recognize the complete pair and easier to tell the complete pair apart from pairs of events that did not co-occur; there is also, however, a bias to report that similar events had co-occurred, even when they had not. A new experiment shows that these phenomena occur whenever two events share features, whether those features are perceptual or conceptual in nature and whether the events themselves are verbal or non-verbal. We present a dynamic model for storage and recognition of associations that shows how all these results can be explained by the principle that shared features lead to correlated processing of similar events, which in turn increases capacity to process associative information.

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