Neural Correlates of Incongruity

Pascale Michelon and Abraham Z. Snyder

in Distinctiveness and Memory

Published in print April 2006 | ISBN: 9780195169669
Published online March 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780199847563 | DOI:
Neural Correlates of Incongruity

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Most of the objects in our environment are familiar and expected in a given situation. A mnemonic advantage can be attributed to the distinctiveness of perceived events. Two types of distinctiveness can be distinguished: primary and secondary distinctiveness. Primary distinctiveness is due to item contrast with respect to the surroundings. The likelihood that an item will be remembered increases as the number of properties shared with its contextual neighbors decreases. Secondary distinctiveness is generated by violation of expectations about the world. Multiple behavioral studies have shown a memory advantage for incongruous versus ordinary material. This result is commonly known as the bizarreness effect. This chapter deals with secondary distinctiveness, which underlies the subjective percept of bizarreness or incongruity. The neural correlates of the encoding of incongruous information are explored in an attempt to understand why it is better remembered. Three interpretations of the bizarreness effect are considered: the attentional or processing-time hypothesis, the distinctiveness hypothesis, and the surprise or expectation violation hypothesis.

Keywords: primary distinctiveness; secondary distinctiveness; neural correlates; bizarreness; incongruity; incongruous information; memory; processing time; surprise; expectation violation

Chapter.  8415 words. 

Subjects: Cognitive Psychology

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