Other Memory Studies

In this line of work, I explore the link between remembering the past and imagining the future.

We imagine specific future events by taking elements from our memories and recombining them into new coherent events (e.g. Schacter & Addis, 2020). My research explores (1) how we can study the link between memory retrieval and future thinking, and (2) whether this means that memory retrieval contributes to other forms of imagination as well (beyond future thinking). Specifically, I test how memory retrieval contributes to creative writing and our ability to think about others' emotions.

In this chapter, I review the role of episodic memory retrieval in future thinking, with a specific emphasis on three recent lines of research using 1) repetition suppression, i.e., decreased neural activity for a repeated stimulus; 2) transcranial magnetic stimulation, which can temporarily disrupt activity in specific brain regions; and 3) the episodic specificity induction, an experimental tool to manipulate and identify episodic contributions to subsequent tasks.

Project 2: Contributions of memory retrieval to creative writing.

A large body of research has shown that we imagine future events by retrieving details from memories of specific events. These finding suggest that memory retrieval may be critical to other tasks that also involve imagined scenes and events. Since much of creative writing involves generating new scenes and events, we tested whether creative writing benefits from episodic memory retrieval. In two experiments, we use an episodic specificity induction that selectively impacts tasks that draw on episodic retrieval (see Madore & Schacter (2016) for a review of this well-validated tool). We provide preliminary evidence that episodic memory retrieval contributes to creative writing.

Our paper is published in the Creativity Research Journal ( van Genugten et al., 2021) and I presented this work in a talk at the Society for the Neuroscience of Creativity.

Project 3: Contributions of memory retrieval to social cognition.

When we read a newspaper article about a recent tragedy, we may better better understand what individuals are experiencing if we vividly imagine their situation. We tested whether episodic retrieval (which supports our ability to imagine specific situations), affects our ability to imagine what others are thinking and feeling in specific situations. In two experiments, we used an episodic specificity induction to manipulate episodic contributions to a subsequent mentalizing task. Experiment 1 indicates that episodic retrieval enhances our ability to imagine others' thoughts; Experiment 2 was inconclusive. These results were presented at the Psychonomic Society Annual Conference, and are discussed in my dissertation

Posted on:
May 23, 2021
3 minute read, 432 words
hugo software
See Also:
Natural Language Processing
Machine Learning