Evoking Episodic and Semantic Details with Instructional Manipulation: the Semantic Autobiographical Interview

Melega, Greta and Lancelotte, Fiona and Johnen, Ann-Kathrin and Hornberger, Michael and Levine, Brian and Renoult, Louis (2024) Evoking Episodic and Semantic Details with Instructional Manipulation: the Semantic Autobiographical Interview. Psychology and Aging. ISSN 0882-7974 (In Press)

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Most measures of naturalistic human memory instruct participants to recall personally-experienced episodes in narrative format. These narratives contain non-episodic details, such as general knowledge of the world, or personal knowledge about one’s life circumstances that are elevated with aging. As this non-episodic content is incidental to the instructions, it is difficult to interpret. We modified the widely used Autobiographical Interview (AI) to create a Semantic Autobiographical Interview (SAI) that explicitly targets personal semantic (P-SAI) and general semantic memories (G-SAI). We tested the SAI in young and older adults, alongside with the original AI. Older adults produced a higher proportion of off-task utterances (i.e., details not probed by instructions) across all sections of the interview. Specifically, older adults produced more autobiographical facts in the AI, more episodic and general semantic details in the P-SAI, and more self-knowledge in the G-SAI than did young adults. However, older adults also consistently produced more probed autobiographical facts than did young adults on the P-SAI. These findings suggest that the increased production of semantic details in ageing reflects a bias towards age differences in autobiographical recall that goes beyond episodic remembering, as reflected by an age-associated abundance of semantic details across sections of the interview, findings that are not accommodated by accounts of aging and memory emphasizing reduced cognitive control or compensation for episodic memory impairment.

Item Type: Article
13 March 2024Accepted
Uncontrolled Keywords: autobiographical memory, episodic memory, personal semantic memory, aging, retrieval
Subjects: CAH04 - psychology > CAH04-01 - psychology > CAH04-01-02 - applied psychology
CAH04 - psychology > CAH04-01 - psychology > CAH04-01-05 - others in psychology
Divisions: Faculty of Business, Law and Social Sciences > School of Social Sciences > Dept. Psychology
Depositing User: Ann-Kathrin Johnen
Date Deposited: 18 Apr 2024 12:53
Last Modified: 18 Apr 2024 12:53
URI: https://www.open-access.bcu.ac.uk/id/eprint/14340

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