Semantic represenations of retrieved memory information depend on cue-modality
The semantic content (i.e., meaning of words) is the essence of retrieved autobiographical memories. In comparison to previous research, which has mainly focused on phenomenological experiences and age distribution of memory events, the present study provides a novel view on the retrieval of event information by addressing the semantic representation of memories. In the present study the semantic representation (i.e., word locations represented by vectors in a high dimensional space) of retrieved memory information were investigated, by analyzing the data with an automatic statistical algorithm. The experiment comprised a cued recall task, where participants were presented with unimodal (i.e., one sense modality) or multimodal (i.e., three sense modalities in conjunction) retrieval cues and asked to recall autobiographical memories. The memories were verbally narrated, recorded and transcribed to text. The semantic content of the memory narrations was analyzed with a semantic representation generated by latent semantic analysis (LSA). The results indicated that the semantic representation of visually evoked memories were most similar to the multimodally evoked memories, followed by auditorily and olfactorily evoked memories. By categorizing the semantic content into clusters, the present study also identified unique characteristics in the memory content across modalities.
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