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Poster D48

Item memory benefits from schema congruency and incongruency

Poster Session D - Monday, April 15, 2024, 8:00 – 10:00 am EDT, Sheraton Hall ABC

Regine Bader1 (, Moritz Nicolai Braun1, Michael Weigl1,2; 1Saarland University, Germany, 2Institut für Prävention und Verkehrssicherheit (IPV GmbH), Germany

Previous research suggests that both information congruent and incongruent to pre-existing knowledge (schemas) improve episodic memory compared to information that is neither particularly congruent nor incongruent (U-shaped function). Some models associate benefits for schema congruency with increased familiarity and benefits for schema incongruency with increased recollection. To date, evidence for both hypotheses within the same study is still rare. In two event-related potential experiments, we tested whether (and how) memory for incidentally studied target words (e.g., taxi) is improved by (in-)congruency with schemas activated by preceding word triplets. Triplets could activate congruent schemas (e.g., bus, ferry, airplane), incongruent schemas (e.g., apple, pear, plum), or no schemas (e.g., priest, whiskey, tambourine) with respect to the target word. The test phase included studied targets and related lures (e.g., train, cherry). Schema congruency and incongruency improved memory, but schema congruency did so to a greater extent. Behavioral remember/know estimates (Experiment 2) suggest that both ends of the U-shaped function are associated with increases in familiarity and recollection. However, the advantage for congruent versus incongruent information was mainly associated with more remember responses. Consistently, we found a greater recollection-related LPC effect in the congruent than in the other two conditions. However, differences in the familiarity-related FN400 effect were not observed. Thus, our study provides evidence for the U-shaped relationship between schema (in-)congruency and item memory performance. However, contrary to model predictions, we found strong evidence for a role of recollection in the congruency effect while the contribution of familiarity remained elusive.

Topic Area: LONG-TERM MEMORY: Episodic


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