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07-07-2018 | Original Article

Event segmentation and the temporal compression of experience in episodic memory

Tijdschrift:
Psychological Research
Auteurs:
Olivier Jeunehomme, Arnaud D’Argembeau

Abstract

Recent studies suggest that episodic memory represents the continuous flow of information that constitutes daily life events in a temporally compressed form, but the nature and determinants of this compression mechanism remain unclear. In the present study, we used wearable camera technology to investigate whether the temporal compression of experience in episodic memory depends on event segmentation. Participants experienced a series of events during a walk on a university campus and were later asked to mentally replay these events. The temporal compression of events in memory and grain size of event segmentation were estimated based on records of participants’ experience taken by the camera. The results showed that the temporal compression of events in memory (i.e., the density of recalled moments of experience per unit of time of the actual event duration) closely corresponded to the grain size of event segmentation. Specifically, grain sizes of event segmentation and temporal compression rates were four to five times lower when remembering events that involved goal-directed actions compared to other kinds of events (e.g., spatial displacements). Furthermore, temporal compression rates in memory were significantly predicted by the grain size of event segmentation and event boundaries were more than five times more likely to be remembered than other parts of events. Together, these results provide new insights into the mechanism of temporal compression of events in episodic memory.

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