• Adult recollections of childhood memories: What details can be recalled?

      Wells, C.E.; Morrison, Catriona M.; Conway, M.A. (2013-12-03)
      In a memory survey, adult respondents recalled, dated, and described two earliest positive and negative memories that they were highly confident were memories. They then answered a series of questions that focused on memory details such as clothing, duration, weather, and so on. Few differences were found between positive and negative memories, which on average had 4/5 details and dated to the age of 6/6.5 years. Memory for details about activity, location, and who was present was good; memory for all other details was poorer or at floor. Taken together, these findings indicate that (full) earliest memories may be considerably later than previously thought and that they rarely contain the sort of specific details targeted by professional investigators. The resulting normative profile of memory details reported here can be used to evaluate overly specific childhood autobiographical memories and to identify memory details with a low probability of recall.
    • Amnesia and future thinking: Exploring the role of memory in the quantity and quality of episodic future thoughts

      Cole, S.N.; Morrison, Catriona M.; Barak, O.; Pauly-Takas, K.; Conway, M.A. (2016-05-04)
      Objectives To examine the impact of memory accessibility on episodic future thinking. Design Single-case study of neurological patient HCM and an age-matched comparison group of neurologically Healthy Controls. Methods We administered a full battery of tests assessing general intelligence, memory, and executive functioning. To assess autobiographical memory, the Autobiographical Memory Interview (Kopelman, Wilson, & Baddeley, 1990. The Autobiographical Memory Interview. Bury St. Edmunds, UK: Thames Valley Test Company) was administered. The Past Episodic and Future Episodic sections of Dalla Barba's Confabulation Battery (Dalla Barba, 1993, Cogn. Neuropsychol., 1, 1) and a specifically tailored Mental Time Travel Questionnaire were administered to assess future thinking in HCM and age-matched controls. Results HCM presented with a deficit in forming new memories (anterograde amnesia) and recalling events from before the onset of neurological impairment (retrograde amnesia). HCM's autobiographical memory impairments are characterized by a paucity of memories from Recent Life. In comparison with controls, two features of his future thoughts are apparent: Reduced episodic future thinking and outdated content of his episodic future thoughts. Conclusions This article suggests neuropsychologists should look beyond popular conceptualizations of the past–future relation in amnesia via focussing on reduced future thinking. Investigating both the quantity and quality of future thoughts produced by amnesic patients may lead to developments in understanding the complex nature of future thinking disorders resulting from memory impairments.
    • The art of self‐testing by attempting cryptic crosswords in later life: the effect of cryptic crosswords on memory self‐efficacy, metacognition and memory functioning

      Almond, N.M.; Morrison, Catriona M. (2015-02-02)
      Previous research has suggested that older adults who are more cognitively active in later life show an attenuation in cognitive decline in healthy aging. Furthermore, cognitive intervention studies have indicated that ecologically valid cognitive interventions can promote cognitive functioning but only in taskspecific abilities. Since it has been shown that the art of self‐testing can promote metacognitive awareness in older adults, attempting cryptic crosswords may be used as a cognitive intervention for older adults. In Experiments 1 and 2, a questionnaire technique was used and demonstrated that older adults became more aware of their episodic memory deficits after attempting cryptic crossword clues. Based on this, Experiment 3 used an intervention technique over a six‐week period to investigate whether such awareness enabled older adults to improve cognitive functioning in a number of domains. This experiment used a revolutionary within‐subjects technique to control for potential mediating factors. The results supported previous research in that older adults showed an increase in the monitoring pathway of metacognition but were unable to use this enhanced awareness to change their behaviour when undertaking objective tests of cognitive ability. Post‐hoc analysis highlighted subgroups of older adults who showed improvements in certain cognitive abilities, such as episodic memory functioning and judgement of learning abilities. The standard clinical trial technique might be inappropriate when testing either cognitive interventions or pharmacological tests. The within‐subjects approach could be adapted to investigate follow‐up effects of different types of interventions including ecologically valid cognitive interventions.
    • The Effects of a Distracting N-Back Task on Recognition Memory Are Reduced by Negative Emotional Intensity

      Buratto, L.G.; Pottage, C.L.; Brown, C.; Morrison, Catriona M.; Schaefer, A. (2014-10-16)
      Memory performance is usually impaired when participants have to encode information while performing a concurrent task. Recent studies using recall tasks have found that emotional items are more resistant to such cognitive depletion effects than non-emotional items. However, when recognition tasks are used, the same effect is more elusive as recent recognition studies have obtained contradictory results. In two experiments, we provide evidence that negative emotional content can reliably reduce the effects of cognitive depletion on recognition memory only if stimuli with high levels of emotional intensity are used. In particular, we found that recognition performance for realistic pictures was impaired by a secondary 3- back working memory task during encoding if stimuli were emotionally neutral or had moderate levels of negative emotionality. In contrast, when negative pictures with high levels of emotional intensity were used, the detrimental effects of the secondary task were significantly attenuated.
    • Effects of aging and recall of common and uncommon first names using the face-name association technique compared with the pure-lists technique over repeated trials

      Almond, N.M.; Morrison, Catriona M. (2017-03-24)
      Background: The face-name association technique (FNAT) is commonly used to investigate name recall in nonpathologic aging. This technique is appropriate for studying anomia, but the pure-list technique, in which participants see only names and do not need to form face-name associations, might be more appropriate for studying age-related name recall. Methods: Experiment 1 recruited 60 adults (30 younger and 30 older adults) to participate in the FNAT recognition task of 30 common and 30 uncommon names. In experiment 2, the same number and demographic of participants attempted to recall 30 common and 30 uncommon names. Both experiments utilized measurements of overall recall across 5 trials and a delayed recognition or recall trial. Measures of encoding (gained access) and consolidation (lost access) were also taken for the 5 initial trials in both experiments. Older participants received 50% extra study and recognition/recall time. Results: The FNAT experiment revealed an age-related episodic memory deficit for names. However, in cued recall, encoding, consolidation, retention/retrieval, and false alarm tests, older adults were significantly better than younger adults at recalling uncommon names, as opposed to common names. This lends support to the inhibition theory of name recall. Conversely, our second experiment revealed no age effect on any factors of name memory functioning, supporting node structure theory. Conclusions: The results of our experiments support previous findings that suggest an age-related deficit in name recall, but only in cases of anomia. Therefore, the FNAT methodology may be inappropriate for studying age-related name recall. It is possible that names are stored in the memory differently from nouns. We challenge the belief that older adults are significantly less able to recall names compared with other word types, which has implications for both memory self-efficacy questionnaires and research into eye-witness testimonies.
    • Episodic intertrial learning of younger and older participants: Effects of age of acquisition

      Almond, N.M.; Morrison, Catriona M. (2014)
      There is clear evidence of a deficit in episodic memory for older adults compared to younger adults. Using an intertrial technique previous research has investigated whether this deficit can be attributed to a decline in encoding or consolidation. On standard memory tests, these two aspects of memory function can be measured by examining the items forgotten or acquired across multiple learning trials. The present study assessed whether age deficits in episodic memory were affected by stimulus characteristics, specifically age of acquisition (AoA). A standard intertrial design was implemented whereby participants studied word lists over several study-test trials. The stimulus characteristics of AoA were manipulated using a pure-list technique. Our findings showed that older adults demonstrate an overall recall deficit which appeared to be a consequence of both an encoding deficit and consolidation weakness. Earlier-acquired words were recalled significantly better than later-acquired words and this was apparently due to both enhanced encoding and consolidation of earlier- over later-acquired words. The key finding is that older adults show a recall advantage for earlier- compared to later-acquired words over the entire experiment to a greater degree than younger adults.
    • Fictional first memories

      Akhtar, Shazia; Justice, L.V.; Morrison, Catriona M.; Conway, M.A. (2018)
      In a large-scale survey, 6,641 respondents provided descriptions of their first memory and their age when they encoded that memory, and they completed various memory judgments and ratings. In good agreement with many other studies, where mean age at encoding of earliest memories is usually found to fall somewhere in the first half of the 3rd year of life, the mean age at encoding here was 3.2 years. The established view is that the distribution around mean age at encoding is truncated, with very few or no memories dating to the preverbal period, that is, below about 2 years of age. However, we found that 2,487 first memories (nearly 40% of the entire sample) dated to an age at encoding of 2 years and younger, with 893 dating to 1 year and younger. We discuss how such improbable, fictional first memories could have arisen and contrast them with more probable first memories, those with an age at encoding of 3 years and older.
    • Intentionally fabricated autobiographical memories

      Justice, L.V.; Morrison, Catriona M.; Conway, M.A. (2016-11-17)
      Participants generated both autobiographical memories (AMs) that they believed to be true and intentionally fabricated autobiographical memories (IFAMs). Memories were constructed while a concurrent memory load (random 8-digit sequence) was held in mind or while there was no concurrent load. Amount and accuracy of recall of the concurrent memory load was reliably poorer following generation of IFAMs than following generation of AMs. There was no reliable effect of load on memory generation times; however, IFAMs always took longer to construct than AMs. Finally, replicating previous findings, fewer IFAMs had a field perspective than AMs, IFAMs were less vivid than AMs, and IFAMs contained more motion words (indicative of increased cognitive load). Taken together, these findings show a pattern of systematic differences that mark out IFAMs, and they also show that IFAMs can be identified indirectly by lowered performance on concurrent tasks that increase cognitive load.
    • Musical training and semantic integration in sentence processing: Tales of the unexpected

      Featherstone, C.R.; Morrison, Catriona M.; Waterman, M.G.; MacGregor, L.J. (2014)
      Building on models of transfer effects between musical training and language processing and on evidence of similarities in the way the brain responds to unexpected elements in music and language, we investigated whether effects of musical training could be observed at the level of sentence processing. Using sentences that tax the semantic processes involved in natural comprehension and avoid outright anomalies, we showed a striking difference between musicians and non-musicians: contrary to non-musicians, musicians showed no N400 response to novel metaphorical words which were more difficult to integrate semantically into their context than literal controls. This difference between musicians and non-musicians in semantic processing in sentences shows an effect of musicianship at the highest level of music–language transfer effects demonstrated so far in the literature. As well as adding to the growing body of evidence surrounding the relationship between musical training and language processing, this work provides support for theories which suggest shared resources, computations, and neural areas underpinning the high-level processing of music and language.
    • Semantics, Syntax or Neither? A Case for Resolution in the Interpretation of N500 and P600 Responses to Harmonic Incongruities

      Featherstone, C.R.; Morrison, Catriona M.; Waterman, M.G.; MacGregor, L.J. (2013-11-05)
      The processing of notes and chords which are harmonically incongruous with their context has been shown to elicit two distinct late ERP effects. These effects strongly resemble two effects associated with the processing of linguistic incongruities: a P600, resembling a typical response to syntactic incongruities in language, and an N500, evocative of the N400, which is typically elicited in response to semantic incongruities in language. Despite the robustness of these two patterns in the musical incongruity literature, no consensus has yet been reached as to the reasons for the existence of two distinct responses to harmonic incongruities. This study was the first to use behavioural and ERP data to test two possible explanations for the existence of these two patterns: the musicianship of listeners, and the resolved or unresolved nature of the harmonic incongruities. Results showed that harmonically incongruous notes and chords elicited a late positivity similar to the P600 when they were embedded within sequences which started and ended in the same key (harmonically resolved). The notes and chords which indicated that there would be no return to the original key (leaving the piece harmonically unresolved) were associated with a further P600 in musicians, but with a negativity resembling the N500 in non-musicians. We suggest that the late positivity reflects the conscious perception of a specific element as being incongruous with its context and the efforts of musicians to integrate the harmonic incongruity into its local context as a result of their analytic listening style, while the late negativity reflects the detection of the absence of resolution in non-musicians as a result of their holistic listening style.
    • True and intentionally fabricated memories

      Justice, L.V.; Morrison, Catriona M.; Conway, M.A. (2013)
      The aim of the experiment reported here was to investigate the processes underlying the construction of truthful and deliberately fabricated memories. Properties of memories created to be intentionally false (fabricated memories) were compared to properties of memories believed to be true (true memories). Participants recalled and then wrote or spoke true memories and fabricated memories of everyday events. It was found that true memories were reliably more vivid than fabricated memories and were nearly always recalled from a first-person perspective. In contrast, fabricated differed from true memories in that they were judged to be reliably older, were more frequently recalled from a third-person perspective, and linguistic analysis revealed that they required more cognitive effort to generate. No notable differences were found across modality of reporting. Finally, it was found that intentionally fabricated memories were created by recalling and then “editing” true memories. Overall, these findings show that true and fabricated memories systematically differ, despite the fact that both are based on true memories.