Visual imagery in autobiographical memory: The role of repeated retrieval in shifting perspective.

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Recent memories are generally recalled from a first-person perspective whereas older memories are often recalled from a third-person perspective. We investigated how repeated retrieval affects the availability of visual information, and whether it could explain the observed shift in perspective with time. In Experiment 1, participants performed mini-events and nominated memories of recent autobiographical events in response to cue words. Next, they described their memory for each event and rated its phenomenological characteristics. Over the following three weeks, they repeatedly retrieved half of the mini-event and cue-word memories. No instructions were given about how to retrieve the memories. In Experiment 2, participants were asked to adopt either a first- or third-person perspective during retrieval. One month later, participants retrieved all of the memories and again provided phenomenology ratings. When first-person visual details from the event were repeatedly retrieved, this information was retained better and the shift in perspective was slowed.





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Butler, Andrew C, Heather J Rice, Cynthia L Wooldridge and David C Rubin (2016). Visual imagery in autobiographical memory: The role of repeated retrieval in shifting perspective. Conscious Cogn, 42. pp. 237–253. 10.1016/j.concog.2016.03.018 Retrieved from

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David C. Rubin

Juanita M. Kreps Distinguished Professor of Psychology and Neuroscience

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My main research interest has been in long-term memory, especially for complex (or "real-world") stimuli. This work includes the study of autobiographical memory and oral traditions, as well as prose. I have also studied memory as it is more commonly done in experimental psychology laboratories using lists. In addition to this purely behavioral research, which I plan to continue, I work on memory in clinical populations with the aid of a National Institute of Mental Health grant to study PTSD and on the underlying neural basis of memory the aid of a National Institute of Aging grant to study autobiographical memory using fMRI.

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