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Conscious Cogn. 2008 Mar;17(1):276-87. Epub 2007 Apr 30.

Perceptual priming enhances the creation of new episodic memories.

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Inserm, EPHE, Université de Caen/Basse-Normandie, Unité E0218, GIP Cyceron, CHU Côte de Nacre, 14033 Caen Cedex, France.


In recent years, most studies of human memory systems have placed the emphasis on differences rather than on similarities. The present study sought to assess the impact of perceptual priming on the creation of new episodic memories. It was composed of three distinct experimental phases: (1) an initial study phase, during which the number of repetitions of target words was manipulated; (2) a perceptual priming test phase, involving both target and new control words, which constituted the incidental encoding phase of (3) a subsequent Remember/Know/Guess recognition task. Results showed that the greater the perceptual priming at encoding, the more the episodic memory performance was enhanced, whereas no such relation was found for know judgments or feeling of familiarity. Furthermore, the words that were associated with the creation of new episodic memories had been perceptually primed to a greater extent during the incidental encoding phase than the words that were subsequently judged to be known or forgotten. These results suggest that the perceptual contents of episodic memories are constituted by the very perceptual representations that generate priming effects. Potential mechanisms linking perceptual priming to the creation of episodic memories are discussed.

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