The benefits of the autobiographical significance of general knowledge in young and older adults

Lambert, Rachel (2020) The benefits of the autobiographical significance of general knowledge in young and older adults. Doctoral thesis, University of East Anglia.

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This thesis presents an investigation into autobiographical significance (AS) for general knowledge in young and older adults. Across four experimental chapters, we examined the effect of stimuli modality and type of knowledge on AS, the influence of type of associated memories, and the impact of healthy ageing on this process. In our first three experimental chapters, we linked participants’ prior experience, factual knowledge and personal memories for famous person or public event stimuli, with their earlier performance in semantic and episodic judgement tasks. For famous persons, participants were more accurate and faster for AS stimuli, compared to those associated with prior knowledge only, and this was found for any associated episodic memory. In contrast, for public events, significant improvements in episodic accuracy were only present if the associated memory contained specific location details, suggesting AS varies with type of knowledge. The effect of AS was found to be reduced in healthy ageing, except when factual knowledge and familiarity for the stimuli were controlled. Event-related potential (ERP) correlates of AS in a group of older adults were measured in chapter two, which revealed that AS effects in ageing may involve elaborate semantic processing, rather than recollection, as previously reported in young adults.. In the final experimental chapter, we compared AS and the self-reference effect. Participants encoded trait adjectives through AS, self-reference or a word frequency judgement, and their memory for these traits was then compared. Encoding through AS resulted in superior recognition memory and free recall performance, similar to self-reference. These findings provide early support for the relevance of AS for use in memory training. Taken together, this research advanced our current understanding of the underlying processes of AS and its applications for future research.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Faculty \ School: Faculty of Social Sciences > School of Psychology
Depositing User: Jennifer Whitaker
Date Deposited: 10 Dec 2021 15:55
Last Modified: 10 Dec 2021 15:55


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