How do processes that occur prior to learning affect episodic memory? Testing the Contextual Preinstatement Hypothesis using an Episodic Specificity Induction

Project Details


It is well-established that memory performance depends on the degree to which the learning-context is reinstated during post-learning rest or during retrieval. However, does memory also depend on the context prior to learning—namely, on information processed spontaneously before ever perceiving the to-be-learned information?

To answer this question, we will scan participants using fMRI while they listen to stories, recall them and, crucially, also during resting periods before each story (pre-encoding rest). To enhance processing of context during pre-encoding rest, an Episodic Specificity Induction (ESI) will be given at the very beginning. ESI is a brief training on elaborately recalling details of short film, which enhances processing of contextual information.

We predict that patterns of brain activity in memory-related regions which are elicited spontaneously during these pre-encoding rest will resemble brain patterns elicited while participants are listening to the stories. Furthermore, the greater this resemblance, the better memory performance is predicted. This will demonstrate that memory can be predicted by the degree to which patterns of neural activity prior to learning are reinstated during learning.

The investigation of pre-encoding processes has important implications for memory-interventions in individuals with memory decline, by extending the focus of such interventions to processes occurring prior to presentation of memoranda.

Effective start/end date1/01/20 → …


  • United States-Israel Binational Science Foundation (BSF)


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