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Title: Determinants of specificity in autobiographical memory
Author: Healy, Helen G.
ISNI:       0000 0001 3550 7387
Awarding Body: University of Wales, Bangor
Current Institution: Bangor University
Date of Award: 1997
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Depressed and suicidal patients have difficulty in recollecting specific autobiographical events. In response to cue words they tend to generate summarised or general memories instead of specific events. The objectives of this thesis are to explore the mechanisms underlying the production of specific and general autobiographical memories in a non clinical population. The roles of imagery and working memory in the generation of autobiographical memories were investigated. Four experiments examined how manipulating the imageability of the cue affected subsequent retrieval in autobiographical memory. The results show that cues high in imageability facilitated access to specific memories and that visual imageability was the most significant piedictor of memory specificity compared to a range of other perceptual modalities. The effect of an experimental manipulation on retrieval style was examined by instructing participants to retrieve specific events or general events using high or low imageable words to cue memories. The results show that induction. of a generic retrieval style reduced the specificity of images of future events. This models clinical findings with depressed and suicidal patients and suggests that associations between memory retrieval and future imaging share common intermediate pathways. A further experiment suggested that the image ability effects mediating the construction of specific memories may be in part due to the predicability of such retrieval cues. The hypothesis that retrieval of specific autobiographical memories is more effortful compared to the retrieval of general memories was also investigated using a dual task paradigm. Although central executive function has been implicated many times in the monitoring of autobiographical retrieval, no direct assessment of executive capacity during retrieval has been made. The results showed no significant difference in the randomness of a keypressing task when specific or general autobiographical memories were retrieved in response to either high or low imageable cue words. A direct retrieval hypothesis was proposed whereby cues directly accessed specific events in autobiographical memory and the adoption of such a strategy enabled participants to maintain performance on the secondary task.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: Short term memory; Random number generation