Multiple Electrophysiological Indices of Distinctiveness

Monica Fabiani

in Distinctiveness and Memory

Published in print April 2006 | ISBN: 9780195169669
Published online March 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780199847563 | DOI:
Multiple Electrophysiological Indices of Distinctiveness

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Several types of distinctiveness are typically identified in the literature. Among them, primary distinctiveness refers to the fact that some events come to stand out by virtue of the context in which they are embedded, whereas secondary distinctiveness refers to events that violate our expectancies based on our general world knowledge, rather than on their immediate context. This chapter describes an additional concept: subjective distinctiveness. By and large, experimental manipulations of the context in which stimuli are embedded are effective in making them stand out in the eyes of the participants. This chapter reviews data from studies on event-related potentials. These data are based largely on paradigms manipulating primary distinctiveness, and are sometimes collected for the explicit purpose of assessing the memory consequences of this manipulation (and their relationship to the underlying brain activity). From these data, inferences are made about various aspects of cognition, including sensory and working memory. It is clear that some of the processes that may in the end contribute to enhanced memory performance may occur during the rehearsal or retrieval of the events.

Keywords: subjective distinctiveness; cognition; working memory; events; retrieval; rehearsal; event-related potentials; primary distinctiveness

Chapter.  9675 words. 

Subjects: Cognitive Psychology

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