Fast Memory Integration Facilitated by Schema Consistency

AbstractMany everyday decisions are based not only on memories of direct experiences, but on memories that are integrated across multiple distinct experiences. Sometimes memory integration between existing memories and newly learnt information occurs rapidly, without requiring inference during the decision. It is known that prior knowledge (i.e. schema) affects the initial acquisition, and consolidation, of memories. In this study, we explore the effect of schema on the integration of acquired memories between paired associates (e.g. integrating A-B and B-C into A-B-C) that were schema consistent or inconsistent, as confirmed with a latent semantic analysis of text corpora. We find that enabling fast learning, by using material that is consistent with a schema, allows for fast memory integration. These behavioral results are consistent with predictions generated from neuroscientific hypotheses suggesting that an existing schema might enable neocortical learning that is distinct from a more explicit hippocampus-mediated integration of new information.

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