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Out of Place, Out of Mind: Schema-Driven False Memory Effects for Object-Location Bindings

Lew, A. R. & Howe, M. L. (2016). Out of Place, Out of Mind: Schema-Driven False Memory Effects for Object-Location Bindings. Journal of Experimental Psychology: Learning, Memory, and Cognition, 43(3), pp. 404-421. doi: 10.1037/xlm0000317


Events consist of diverse elements, each processed in specialized neocortical networks, with temporal lobe memory systems binding these elements to form coherent event memories. We provide a novel theoretical analysis of an unexplored consequence of the independence of memory systems for elements and their bindings, 1 that raises the paradoxical prediction that schema-driven false memories can act solely on the binding of event elements despite the superior retrieval of individual elements. This is because if 2, or more, schema-relevant elements are bound together in unexpected conjunctions, the unexpected conjunction will increase attention during encoding to both the elements and their bindings, but only the bindings will receive competition with evoked schema-expected bindings. We test our model by examining memory for object-location bindings in recognition (Study 1) and recall (Studies 2 and 3) tasks. After studying schema-relevant objects in unexpected locations (e.g., pan on a stool in a kitchen scene), participants who then viewed these objects in expected locations (e.g., pan on stove) at test were more likely to falsely remember this object-location pairing as correct, compared with participants that viewed a different unexpected object-location pairing (e.g., pan on floor). In recall, participants were more likely to correctly remember individual schema-relevant objects originally viewed in unexpected, as opposed to expected locations, but were then more likely to misplace these items in the original room scene to expected places, relative to control schema-irrelevant objects. Our theoretical analysis and novel paradigm provide a tool for investigating memory distortions acting on binding processes.

Publication Type: Article
Additional Information: Copyright American Psychological Association 2016
Publisher Keywords: Schema; False memories; Source memory; Scene memory; Distinctiveness effects; Object-location binding
Subjects: B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BF Psychology
Departments: School of Health & Psychological Sciences > Psychology
SWORD Depositor:
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