IAS Seminar by Dr James Ainge, University of St Andrews.
Definitions of episodic memory often stress the importance of temporal a component. Memories happen at a specific time and an elegant way of avoiding interference in the memory system would be to use time tags to allow each memory to be disambiguated from other memories, even memoires for very similar events. This issue is complicated, however, by the fact that time can be coded in different ways. In a recent study we examined how people remember when things happened to them using either a distance-based strategy (how long ago did that happen?) relative to a location-based strategy (what was the precise time that happened?). Our findings were consistent with numerous others in the literature that show that time can be encoded in different ways and that these temporal strategies are not consistently accurate. Indeed, memory for time has been shown repeatedly to be poor in comparison to memory for other aspects of our experience. I will present some studies examining memory for time in humans and animals and some of the neural mechanisms that could support temporal components of memory. The main question I would like to address is whether time as a unitary concept is useful in memory research.
Questions to consider:
1. How do we remember when things happened?
2. Does the temporal component of episodic memory change as memories age?
3. When we remember an event, is time part of this representation?