Binding processes in episodic memory: Measurement, structure, and moderators

Schreiner, Marcel Raphael

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URN: urn:nbn:de:bsz:180-madoc-638707
Document Type: Doctoral dissertation
Year of publication: 2023
Place of publication: Mannheim
University: Universität Mannheim
Evaluator: Erdfelder, Edgar
Date of oral examination: 30 January 2023
Publication language: English
Institution: Außerfakultäre Einrichtungen > Graduiertenkolleg "Statistical Modeling in Psychology" (SMiP)
School of Social Sciences > Psychologische Methodenlehre u. Diagnostik (Meiser 2009-)
Subject: 150 Psychology
Keywords (English): episodic memory , binding , memory integration , statistical modeling , item response theory , animacy , agency
Abstract: Episodic memory enables people to remember personally experienced events. While these events consist of different elements, people are able to form coherent memory representations. This requires that an event’s constituent elements are bound together in memory. Despite the importance of these binding processes for episodic memory, they are still only poorly understood and our abilities to measure them are limited. In this thesis, comprising three articles, I provide a new approach for measuring binding effects and use this measure to probe properties of binding processes in episodic memory. In the first article, I introduce the new measurement approach and evaluate its suitability for measuring binding effects in comparison to previous approaches. I show that the approach has good measurement properties and is better suited for measuring binding effects than previous approaches. In the second article, I examine the structure in which event elements are bound together and whether animacy influences binding processes. I show that different binding structures are possible, such as an integrated binding structure, in which event elements are bound into a unitary representation, and a hierarchical binding structure, in which event elements are preferentially bound to particular types of elements. These may lie on a continuum of memory representations with varying degrees of integration. I further show that the presence of an animate element in an event facilitates binding, enabling more coherent memory representations with a higher degree of integration. In addition, awareness regarding commonalities of types of event elements across events may facilitate binding. In the third article, I examine whether agency influences binding processes. I show that the presence of an agentic element in an event may facilitate binding, but evidence was not conclusive and effects may have been concealed due to low memory performance. Agency may thus underlie the previously found facilitating effect of animacy on binding, since animate elements may exert their influence by providing a potential agent in an event. One aim of my thesis is to provide a new tool for investigating binding processes in episodic memory. An additional aim is to extend our current understanding of binding structures that link together the elements of an event, as well as the factors that moderate binding processes. In doing so, I hope to advance our understanding of binding processes and enable and inform future exploration, as well as theory development and refinement, of this fundamental property underlying episodic memory.

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