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Poster C54

Semantic Memory and Temporal Discounting

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

Danielle Akilov1, (, Karolina Lempert1; 1Adelphi University

People vary in the extent to which they devalue future rewards as the delay to receiving them increases (this is known as temporal discounting). It has been proposed that episodic memory abilities contribute to reducing discounting by promoting more future-oriented choices. Episodic memory allows individuals to make more patient choices by creating detailed imaginations of future events. However, future imagination also relies on semantic memory (e.g., schemas). Here we investigated whether episodic memory and/or semantic memory are associated with temporal discounting. We hypothesized that semantic memory is more critical than episodic memory for supporting future-oriented decisions. A sample recruited from Prolific (N=205) completed a Qualtrics survey. Participants first completed an encoding task consisting of 54 words derived from six semantic categories. Following this task, participants did a temporal discounting task in which they made choices between smaller, sooner and larger, later monetary rewards. Then they completed semantic and lexical fluency tasks. Finally, they were tested on their recognition for the words from the encoding task. We found that temporal discounting correlated negatively with semantic fluency (r = -0.215, p = 0.002), such that better semantic fluency was associated with more future-oriented choice. This result remained even after controlling for lexical fluency, age, gender, education, and socioeconomic status. The hit rate for previously seen words was not associated with temporal discounting, however (r = -0.022; p = 0.757). Together, these results suggest that semantic memory is a more important contributor to patient choice than episodic memory is.

Topic Area: LONG-TERM MEMORY: Semantic


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