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Trends Cogn Sci. 1999 Feb;3(2):74-80.

Episodic memory: what can animals remember about their past?

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aSection of Neurobiology, Physiology and Behavior, University of California Davis, One Shield's Avenue, Davis, CA 95616, USA.


The question of whether episodic memory, the ability to recall unique, personal experiences, is restricted to humans is a matter of current controversy. Recent work on food-storing jays suggests that several features of episodic memory may not be as exclusive to humans as previously thought. In this review we outline the critical features of episodic memory in humans, its relationship to declarative memory, and recent results revealing that jays can learn to perform a task that depends on certain features of episodic memory and can thus be considered 'episodic-like'. Finally, we compare this avian performance with a contemporary definition of human episodic memory and consider the implications for studies of hippocampal function and animal cognition.


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