Stefan Köhler, Department of Psychology and Brain & Mind Institute, University of Western Ontario
Title: Mechanisms Involved in Assessing the Cumulative Life-Time Exposure to Concepts
Ebbinghaus Empire Series 2014-2015
VIDEO RECORDING OF TALK
Abstract: The ability to recognize prior occurrences of objects in the environment is critical to many aspects of adaptive behavior. In research with humans, recognition of prior occurrence is typically probed with tasks that include an initial experimentally controlled study phase for a list of items. Critically, when meaningful stimuli such as words or pictures of objects are employed, participants must make their recognition judgment with reference to the recent experimental encounter rather than with respect to their lifetime of experience, which may have involved tens, hundreds, or thousands of encounters in many different episodic contexts. Humans can, however, also judge the cumulative exposure to objects or concepts they have encountered over extended time periods. In the semantic-memory literature, for example, participants are often asked to rate their cumulative exposure to concepts over their entire lifetime (‘concept familiarity’). Such judgments show considerable consistency across participants in normative studies of concept knowledge, and are also known to have some external validity. At present, little is known about the cognitive and neural mechanisms that support this mnemonic ability. Here, I plan to review a series of neuropsychological, neuroimaging, and cognitive experiments that offer first insight into such mechanisms.
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