Implicit memory for novel conceptual associations in amnesia

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Cognitive, Affective, and Behavioral Neuroscience


Target Word, Word Pair, Implicit Memory, Explicit Memory, Verification Task


In two experiments, we evaluated the status of implicit memory for novel associations in amnesia. Experiment 1 assessed priming in a category exemplar generation task in which contextual information associated with a target could increase the likelihood of target generation. Control participants, but not amnesic patients, showed associative priming. Amnesics’ impairment was not due to the use of explicit memory by control subjects but reflected a genuine impairment in implicit memory for novel conceptual associations. Experiment 2 assessed priming in a relatedness judgment task, in which associative priming was manifest as longer latencies for old than for recombined pairs of unrelated words. Amnesic patients showed intact associative priming in this task. We discuss differences in the status of implicit memory for novel conceptual associations in amnesia, with reference to the nature of the representation that supports priming in the two tasks and the type of processing that is required at test.


Copyright © 2006, Psychonomic Society, Inc.

This research was supported by NINDS Grant NS26985, NIMH Grant MH57681, and the Medical Research Service of the Department of Veterans Affairs.