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Poster C34

Selective memory retrieval does not depend on semantic congruency between retrieval goals and test cues: ERP evidence

Poster Session C - Sunday, April 14, 2024, 5:00 – 7:00 pm EDT, Sheraton Hall ABC

Xinyue Zhang1 (, Alexa Morcom1; 1University of Sussex

For memory to serve our goals we need to selectively retrieve the relevant past experiences. Research has shown that although selective retrieval is internally driven, it is also facilitated by overlap between external cues and targeted memories, consistent with the encoding specificity principle. Here, we investigated this goal-driven control further in a preregistered electroencephalographic event-related potential (EEG-ERP) study. We asked if semantic congruency between internal goals and external cues would modify retrieval selectivity. Thirty-seven participants studied objects paired with scenes. At test, they saw object names and judged if each was a target, i.e., it was studied with one of two targeted scenes designated per block (the retrieval goal). Non-targets were objects studied with another scene, or new objects. Test objects were either semantically congruent with one targeted scene or incongruent with both. Behaviourally, target-non-target discrimination was poorer when object names were congruent with the targeted scenes. Participants responded faster to congruent targets but were slower to congruent non-targets suggesting impaired non-target rejection due to congruency. In contrast, congruency did not impact the target-selectivity of the left parietal (LP) ERP effect associated with recollection. Analysis of mean ERP amplitude at three LP electrodes (500-800 ms) showed strong target-selectivity with non-significant LP effect for non-target memories and no significant effect of semantic congruency. Analysis at mid-frontal sites revealed no significant FN400 ERP effect. The data suggest that semantic overlap (congruency) between goals and test cues does not impact pre-retrieval memory selection, but may impede other processes contributing to accurate task performance.

Topic Area: LONG-TERM MEMORY: Episodic


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