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Poster D63

The neural signature of retrograde memory enhancement by contrastive focus accent

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

Axel Mecklinger1, Regine Bader1, Sandra Glaser1, Gerrit Höltje1, Katharina Spalek2; 1Saarland University, Germany, 2Heinrich-Heine Universität Düsseldorf, Germany

It is well established that motivationally significant events are preferentially stored in memory even when the relevance of an event becomes evident only sometime after encoding. Here, we used the ERP subsequent memory effect (SME) to explore the mechanisms underlying such a retrograde memory enhancement (RME) during prosodic focus marking. Prosody is a way to make a phrase more salient. Contrastive focus accent is often interpreted exclusively, such that an utterance is only true for the focused element, not for any others. Participants listened to short stories containing two context sentences which included sets of three elements (e.g., pearls, rubies, sapphires) and a critical sentence. The critical sentence repeated one of the three elements with or without a contrastive focus accent (e.g. PEARLs vs pearls). Memory performance tested in a subsequent recall test was not affected by the focus manipulation. In the ERP we explored whether there is a retrograde SME on the focused element, i.e. a more pronounced SME the more elements from the preceding context sentence are remembered. Consistent with this view, the ERP elicited by the focused element was more positive going between 300 and 700 ms if two elements were remembered than if only one element was remembered. This retrograde SME was most pronounced at parietal electrodes and only present in the contrastive focus marking condition. These data suggest that contrastive focus marking initiated a reinstatement of the preceding sentence context by which these elements are prioritized in memory and therefore more likely remembered.

Topic Area: LONG-TERM MEMORY: Episodic


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