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Future Episodic Thinking 2 Lec 13 Notes

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Future Episodic Thinking (2) What is the theoretical link between episodic memory & episodic future thinking?

Narrative Ability Episodic Simulation Theory Scene Construction Theory

Narrative Ability Race et al (2011)

Investigated the nature + necessity of the MTL in imagining the future +
tested the novel hypothesis that the MTL contributes to future thinking by supporting online binding processes related to narrative construction Amnesic patients with MTL damage + healthy controls constructed narratives about 1) future events, 2) past events, 3) visually presented pictures
- Measure mean no.of episodic details recorded All three tasks place similar demands on narrative construction - only past
+ future require memory/future episodic thinking to generate narrative construction Amnesic patients produced impoverished descriptions of both past +
future events - BUT unimpaired at producing detailed picture narratives Future thinking performance positively correlated with episodic memory performance but did not correlated with narrative pic performance
- Arguably strong evidence that a common MTL mechanism supports both EM + EFT
 Ability to generate + maintain a detailed narrative is preserved in amnesia - suggests a common MTL mechanism supports both EM + E future thinking
 Argues against deficits in higher order processes related to narrative construction as the underlying cause of future thinking impairments in amnesia

Squire et al (2010)  challenges view that EM + EFT rely on the same MTL mechanism

Demonstrated that amnesic patients with MTL damage can imagine future events as well as controls
- Concluded that MTL not necessary for future thinking - prior reports of impaired future thinking in amnesia reflect neural damage outside the MTL
- HOWEVER  Squire's patients did not demonstrate pervasive autobiographical memory loss - suggests the extent of future thinking +
memory impairments in amnesia may be related
 Fact that Race et al (2011)found pos correlation between EM + EFT =>
suggestive that a common MTL mechanism underlies both functions EPISODIC SIMULATION THEORY  Schacter & Addis (2007)

EM is widely seen as a constructive process - rather than reproductive process prone to various kinds of errors + illusions
 The constructive nature of EM is highly adaptive for performing a major function of this system  to draw on past experiences in a way that allows us to imagine + simulate episodes which may occur in our personal future
 A number of researchers have recognised that information about past experiences is useful only to the extent that it allows us to anticipate what may happen in the future (Suddendorf & Busby, 2003)  also Anderson &
Schooler's (1991) analysis of adaptive forgetting supports the idea that info about the past is retained when it is likely to be used in the future
 Future events are rarely exact replicas of past events - memory system which simply stored rote records of what happened in the past - would not be suited to stimulating future events
 Suggest a system built upon constructive principles is better suited to stimulating future happenings  draw on elements of the past + retain the general sense of what has happened
 simulation related processes such as EM , future thinking + scene construction all require the extraction of relevant episodic details from memory + the recombination of these details for form fictitious simulations of novel scenes it is this process that depends on the integrity of the hippocampus
 One important function of retaining personal memories is that aspects of prev experienced events are used in envisioning future events in similar settings
 System can flexibly extract, recombine, + reassemble these elements in a way that allows us to stimulate , imagine or pre-experience events which have never occurred previously in the exact form we imagine them
 This theory endorses Suddendorf & Busby's (2003) suggestion that "episodic reconstruction is just an adaptive feature of the future planning system"
- For this theory to have merit then remembering the past + imaging the future should show a no of similar characteristics + depend on the same neural substrates
- Also suggests that the quality of future thinking will depend on the quality of the EM on which it is based

The importance of vivid + relevant memory are experienced as less vivid

More remote memories have less perceptual details More distant future events are also less detailed + vivid e.g. if asked to imagine a holiday you would take next summer - this would be a more vivid representation that if asked to imagine a holiday you would take when you reach 60.

Szpunar & McDermott (2008)

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