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Priming Shows that Episodic Memory is Structured According to Perceptual Events




College of Liberal Arts and Sciences

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Perceivers spontaneously segment ongoing activity into discrete events. This segmentation is important for the moment-by-moment understanding of events, but may also be critical for how events are encoded into episodic memory. In this study, we tested the possibility that perceptual event boundaries organize episodic memory for everyday activity. Viewers watched movies of everyday activities such as washing a car, and then performed a yes-no recognition task using pictures taken from the movies. Some target pictures were preceded by a prime picture taken from 5 s previously in the movie. This produced priming, reducing response times for the target picture. Critically, priming was greater when the prime was part of the same perceptual event as the target, than when it was part of a different event. This result suggests that segmentation during perception helps to make the episodes in episodic memory.

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Seattle, WA

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