Associative processes in recognition memory
Whitt, Emma (2011) Associative processes in recognition memory. PhD thesis, University of Nottingham.
Recognition memory, or the discrimination between novelty and familiarity, is well predicted by an associative model of memory (Wagner’s SOP). In this thesis I examined predictions from this model concerning priming of stimuli, and stimulus spacing, in rats’ object recognition. Priming of an object resulted in a bias in behaviour towards the non-primed object. This may be due to associative processes, as described by the SOP model. Spacing stimuli in a sample stage of an object recognition task resulted in longer-lasting or better discrimination in a test of familiar versus novel object, as predicted by the model. Incorporating a short or long delay between sample and test led to better discrimination after a short delay, though differences in stimulus spacing conditions at each delay were not significant. I also examined recognition using stimulus generalisation. Generalisation of a conditioned response occurred between stimuli that shared elements of familiarity. Although not significant, familiarity generalisation may have been less apparent in animals with lesions to perirhinal cortex, providing some support for the suggestion that perirhinal cortex has a role in novelty/familiarity discrimination. The main conclusion was that recognition memory, as measured by the object recognition and generalisation tasks, might involve associative processes.
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