The representation of meaning in episodic memory
In several models of long-term memory it is assumed, either explicitly or implicitly, that different meanings of homonyms and even different senses of nonhomonyms have separate representations in long-term memory. While evidence has accrued, particularly from studies employing lexical decision tasks, to suggest that homonyms are multiply represented in semantic memory, claims for multiple representation of homonyms in episodic memory have tended to be made on a purely post hoc basis. The aim of the present research was to determine the manner in which homonyms are represented in episodic memory. A series of experiments were conducted in which either one or two meanings of homonyms were encoded at input. Retention of the homonyms or their biasing nouns was tested in a variety of retrieval contexts. The results obtained were consistent with a conceptualisation of episodic memory in which successive encodings of the same item are represented within the same memory trace which was established on the first occurrence of the item. When to different meanings of a homonym are encoded at input the encoded meanings will be represented within a single memory trace, with each different meaning being represented by an independent set of encoded semantic features. The generality of the framework for episodic memory which is developed is demonstrated through its interpretive application to a wide range of episodic memory phenomena.