Project - Precision in Episodic Memory – Unfolding the event narrative across the lifespan
Research Project Description
Episodic memory is the conscious retrieval of events from the past in a complex and multifaceted fashion. Not only does it support the development and maintenance of one’s sense of self and relationship with the world, it facilitates our flexible adaptation to changing contexts, guiding our actions, decisions, and future behaviour.
For decades, recollection has adhered to the “all-or-none” conceptualisation, varying only in the dichotomy between successful and unsuccessful retrieval. Such approaches, while useful in providing a coarse estimate of memory function, lack the fine-grained detail regarding the strength of the memory trace where the quality, or precision, of the successfully retrieved information varies on a graded scale. Despite the recent evolution in understanding precision memory using simple, highly controlled stimuli and continuous measures, no study has explored precision memory for natural temporally extended events. Moreover, research exploring how individual differences in memory retrieval interact with precision and success across the life span is notably lacking.
As such, the overarching aims of my project are to
- i. Develop an ecologically valid task to investigate the precision of memory in healthy adults;
- ii. Use this task to capture the multi-faceted nature of memory profile across the lifespan;
- iii. Determine how large-scale brain network variability relates to individual differences in autobiographical memory style;
- iv. Elucidate how individual differences in autobiographical memory style relate to memory success and memory precision across the lifespan;
- v. Translate these findings into a new assessment tool to aid in the early detection and screening for memory decline.
Memory for experiences and events is vulnerable in dementia syndromes. Reminiscence therapies are increasingly being used to improve quality of life for people living with dementia. Despite significant promise, it remains unclear how best to tailor these programs to improve specific aspects of memory that remain intact in dementia. It is our long-term goal to use the findings of the current project to probe the exact features of memory profile across dementia syndromes, and to design personalised, targeted reminiscence programs to support those aspects of memory that are central to wellbeing for individuals living with dementia.