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Poster D71

Associative inference is influenced by schema congruency

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

Zhenghao Liu1 (, Ieva Valavičiūtė1, Mikael Johansson1, Inês Bramão1; 1Department of Psychology, Lund University

The presence of overlapping elements in distinct events promotes the formation of associative inferences across event boundaries, thereby shaping how new information is integrated with pre-existing knowledge. This study investigates the influence of schema congruency on mnemonic processes involved in such associative inferences. The present study employed EEG recordings of brain activity to assess encoding and retrieval-based processes in an associative inference task. Participants (N=38) encoded AB events set against unique congruent/incongruent background contexts, creating different schema representations across different learning trials (e.g., multiple forest scenes for a ‘forest’ schema). Subsequently, they encoded novel but overlapping CB events against neutral backgrounds. During retrieval, participants were tested on the indirect AC inferences and recalled the schema and context of the AB events. Behavioral results indicated similar AC inference performance for both congruent and incongruent events. While schema memory remained unaffected by congruency, context memory was better for congruent events. EEG data revealed differences between correct and incorrect inferences during CB encoding for congruent events and during AC retrieval for incongruent events. Further, hierarchical multivariate pattern classifiers, designed to identify schema and context-specific neural activity, showed that while congruent events were associated with schema reactivation, incongruent events elicited context reactivation. In summary, our findings suggest that associative inferences across event boundaries are supported by different mnemonic mechanisms, depending on whether the events align or deviate from existing schemas. Specifically, inference for schema-congruent information is likely accomplished via integrative encoding, whereas inference across schema-incongruent information seems to depend on flexible retrieval processes.

Topic Area: LONG-TERM MEMORY: Episodic


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