The cognitive brown bag speaker on Wednesday, April 24 (12:00, Tobin 521B) will be Merika Wilson (https://www.umass.edu/pbs/people/merika-wilson). Title and abstract are below. All are welcome.
The Role of Conjunctive Representations in Memory
Evidence suggests that structural or functional changes in the medial temporal lobe (MTL) impair long-term declarative memory, yet the reason why this specific region of the brain is critical for memory is not fully understood. One theory– the Representational-Hierarchical account –proposes that some memory deficits may reflect impairments in the representations that underlie memory processes. This theory makes two specific predictions. First, recognition memory performance in participants with compromised MTL structures should be impaired by feature-level interference, in which studied items contain many shared, and thus repeatedly appearing, perceptual features. Second, if the interference in a recognition memory task – i.e., the information that repeats across items – resides at a higher level of complexity than simple perceptual features, such as semantic gist, participants with compromised MTL structures should be less impacted by such interference than participants with intact MTL structures. We tested these predictions using the Deese-Roediger-McDermott paradigm, by creating feature-level (i.e., perceptual) interference with phonemically/orthographically related word categories, and higher-level associative interference with semantically related word categories. The current study extends previous findings from this paradigm with older adults, who are thought to have age-related changes to MTL structures, to two individuals with more extensive MTL damage.