Episodic memory: Nine Properties (Wikipedia)

“Episodic memory is the memory of autobiographical events (times, places, associated emotions, and other contextual who, what, when, where, why knowledge) that can be explicitly stated or conjured. It is the collection of past personal experiences that occurred at a particular time and place. For example, if one remembers the party on his or her 6th birthday, this is an episodic memory. They allow an individual to figuratively travel back in time to remember the event that took place at that particular time and place.[1]

Semantic and episodic memory together make up the category of declarative memory, which is one of the two major divisions of memory – the other is implicit memory.[2] The term “episodic memory” was coined by Endel Tulving in 1972. He was referring to the distinction between knowing and remembering. Knowing is more factual (semantic) whereas remembering is a feeling that is located in the past (episodic).[3]

Tulving has seminally defined three key properties of episodic memory recollection. These are a subjective sense of time (or mental time travel), connection to the self, and autonoetic consciousness. Autonoetic consciousness refers to a special kind of consciousness that accompanies the act of remembering which enables an individual to be aware of the self in a subjective time. Aside from Tulving, others named the important aspects of recollection which includes visual imagery, narrative structure, retrieval of semantic information and the feelings of familiarity.[4]

Events that are recorded into episodic memory may trigger episodic learning, i.e. a change in behavior that occurs as a result of an event.[5][6] For example, a fear of dogs after being bitten by a dog is a result of episodic learning.

One of the main components of episodic memory is the process of recollection. Recollection is a process that elicits the retrieval of contextual information pertaining to a specific event or experience that has occurred…

There are essentially nine properties of episodic memory that collectively distinguish it from other types of memory. Other types of memory may exhibit a few of these properties, but only episodic memory has all nine:[7]

  1. Contain summary records of sensory-perceptual-conceptual-affective processing.
  2. Retain patterns of activation/inhibition over long periods.
  3. Often represented in the form of (visual) images.
  4. They always have a perspective (field or observer).
  5. Represent short time slices of experience.
  6. They are represented on a temporal dimension roughly in order of occurrence.
  7. They are subject to rapid forgetting.
  8. They make autobiographical remembering specific.
  9. They are recollectively experienced when accessed….”

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