Background and Research:
I'm a Postdoctoral Fellow in Psychology at Stanford with Anthony Wagner and funded by an extramural NRSA F32 from NIA. My K99/R00 from NINDS has also recently been funded. I received a PhD in Psychology at Harvard with Dan Schacter in 2017 where I was extramurally funded by the Beinecke Scholarship and Sackler Psychobiology Program, and a BA in Psychology and History from Middlebury College in 2011.
My research program focuses on memory preparedness, or what can be conceptualized as 'readiness to remember'. Preparatory processes at play before we engage in remembering may affect whether and how we remember. I take a three-pronged approach to this topic, examining effects within the individual, between individuals, and between groups. With basic science and translational science aims, my research addresses the following questions using a combination of behavioral (task and survey), eyetracking (pupillometry and gaze), and neural (EEG, fMRI, concurrent EEG-fMRI, TMS) methods:
1) How do preparatory processes in the moment and minutes before remembering impact memory?
2) How do these preparatory processes impact functions of memory, such as prospection and creativity?
3) How do individual differences in preparatory processes relate to memory ability?
4) How do preparatory processes contribute to age-related memory change?
5) How does engagement with the modern media landscape relate to preparatory processes and memory?
Updates and News:
Fall 2021: My K99/R00 grant from NINDS on neurocomputational mechanisms of attention, goals, and memory has been funded. My training goals are to learn and execute computational modeling and bioengineered closed-loop task designs.
Fall 2020: My postdoc work on attention, goals, memory, and media multitasking is now published at Nature.
Doctor of Philosophy, Harvard University (2017)
Master of Arts, Harvard University (2013)
Bachelor of Arts, Middlebury College (2011)
Anthony Wagner, Postdoctoral Faculty Sponsor
- Does Episodic Retrieval Contribute to Creative Writing? An Exploratory Study CREATIVITY RESEARCH JOURNAL 2021
Memory failure predicted by attention lapsing and media multitasking.
With the explosion of digital media and technologies, scholars, educators and the public have become increasingly vocal about the role that an 'attention economy' has in our lives1. The rise of the current digital culture coincides with longstanding scientific questions about why humans sometimes remember and sometimes forget, and why some individuals remember better than others2-6. Here we examine whether spontaneous attention lapses-in the moment7-12, across individuals13-15 and as a function of everyday media multitasking16-19-negatively correlate with remembering. Electroencephalography and pupillometry measures of attention20,21 were recorded as eighty young adults (mean age, 21.7years) performed a goal-directed episodic encoding and retrieval task22. Trait-level sustained attention was further quantified using task-based23 and questionnaire measures24,25. Using trial-to-trial retrieval data, we show that tonic lapses in attention in the moment before remembering, assayed by posterior alpha power and pupil diameter, were correlated with reductions in neural signals of goal coding and memory, along with behavioural forgetting. Independent measures of trait-level attention lapsing mediated the relationship between neural assays of lapsing and memory performance, and between media multitasking and memory. Attention lapses partially account for why we remember or forget in the moment, and why some individuals remember better than others. Heavier media multitasking is associated with a propensity to have attention lapses and forget.
View details for DOI 10.1038/s41586-020-2870-z
View details for PubMedID 33116309
- Not to Worry: Episodic Retrieval Impacts Emotion Regulation in Older Adults EMOTION 2020; 20 (4)
Modulation of hippocampal brain networks produces changes in episodic simulation and divergent thinking.
Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America
Prior functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) studies indicate that a core network of brain regions, including the hippocampus, is jointly recruited during episodic memory, episodic simulation, and divergent creative thinking. Because fMRI data are correlational, it is unknown whether activity increases in the hippocampus, and the core network more broadly, play a causal role in episodic simulation and divergent thinking. Here we employed fMRI-guided transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) to assess whether temporary disruption of hippocampal brain networks impairs both episodic simulation and divergent thinking. For each of two TMS sessions, continuous theta-burst stimulation (cTBS) was applied to either a control site (vertex) or to a left angular gyrus target region. The target region was identified on the basis of a participant-specific resting-state functional connectivity analysis with a hippocampal seed region previously associated with memory, simulation, and divergent thinking. Following cTBS, participants underwent fMRI and performed a simulation, divergent thinking, and nonepisodic control task. cTBS to the target region reduced the number of episodic details produced for the simulation task and reduced idea production on divergent thinking. Performance in the control task did not statistically differ as a function of cTBS site. fMRI analyses revealed a selective and simultaneous reduction in hippocampal activity during episodic simulation and divergent thinking following cTBS to the angular gyrus versus vertex but not during the nonepisodic control task. Our findings provide evidence that hippocampal-targeted TMS can specifically modulate episodic simulation and divergent thinking, and suggest that the hippocampus is critical for these cognitive functions.
View details for DOI 10.1073/pnas.2003535117
View details for PubMedID 32457143
- Adaptive Constructive Processes: An Episodic Specificity Induction Impacts False Recall in the Deese-Roediger-McDermott Paradigm JOURNAL OF EXPERIMENTAL PSYCHOLOGY-GENERAL 2019; 148 (9): 1480–93
- Constructing autobiographical events within a spatial or temporal context: a comparison of two targeted episodic induction techniques MEMORY 2019; 27 (7): 881–93
Not to worry: Episodic retrieval impacts emotion regulation in older adults.
Emotion (Washington, D.C.)
Interventions that increase the specificity of episodic memory and future-oriented problem solving have been shown to help both young adults and clinical populations regulate their emotions toward potential stressors. However, little is known about how episodic specificity impacts anxiety levels in older adults, who show reduced specificity of episodic memory, future simulation, and problem-solving performance. Although emotion regulation generally improves with age, older adults still experience worries pertaining to their health and interpersonal relationships. The current studies test how episodic specificity affects emotion regulation in older adults. In Experiment 1, participants received an episodic specificity induction (ESI)-brief training in recollecting details of past experiences-prior to generating steps to solve worrisome problems. Older adults provided more relevant steps and episodic details after the specificity induction relative to a control induction, but we found no difference in emotion regulation ratings between induction conditions. In Experiment 2, we contrasted performance on a personal problem-solving task (i.e., generating steps to solve one's own problems) intended to draw on episodic retrieval with an advice task focused on semantic processing (i.e., listing general advice for an acquaintance worried about similar problems). Participants provided more relevant steps and episodic details in the personal problem-solving task relative to the advice task, and boosts in detail were related to larger reductions in anxiety toward the target worrisome events. These results indicate that solving worrisome problems with greater levels of episodic detail can positively influence emotion regulation in older adults. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2019 APA, all rights reserved).
View details for PubMedID 30816741
The core episodic simulation network dissociates as a function of subjective experience and objective content.
Episodic simulation - the mental construction of a possible future event - has been consistently associated with enhanced activity in a set of neural regions referred to as the core network. In the current functional neuroimaging study, we assessed whether members of the core network are differentially associated with the subjective experience of future events (i.e., vividness) versus the objective content comprising those events (i.e., the amount of episodic details). During scanning, participants imagined future events in response to object cues. On each trial, participants rated the subjective vividness associated with each future event. Participants completed a post-scan interview where they viewed each object cue from the scanner and verbally reported whatever they had thought about. For imagined events, we quantified the number of episodic or internal details in accordance with the Autobiographical Interview (i.e., who, what, when, and where details of each central event). To test whether core network regions are differentially associated with subjective experience or objective episodic content, imagined future events were sorted as a function of their rated vividness or the amount of episodic detail. Univariate analyses revealed that some regions of the core network were uniquely sensitive to the vividness of imagined future events, including the hippocampus (i.e., high > low vividness), whereas other regions, such as the lateral parietal cortex, were sensitive to the amount of episodic detail in the event (i.e., high > low episodic details). The present results indicate that members of the core network support distinct episodic simulation-related processes.
View details for DOI 10.1016/j.neuropsychologia.2019.107263
View details for PubMedID 31743681
Multicosts of Multitasking.
Cerebrum : the Dana forum on brain science
What happens to your brain when you multitask? Does your brain slow down? Do you feel increased levels of stress? Why are some people better at it than others? Our authors supply the answers to some of these questions and provide the latest on what happens to the brain when you try to handle more than one task at a time.
View details for PubMedID 32206165
View details for PubMedCentralID PMC7075496
Reinstatement of Event Details during Episodic Simulation in the Hippocampus.
Cerebral cortex (New York, N.Y. : 1991)
According to the constructive episodic simulation hypothesis, episodic simulation (i.e., imagining specific novel future episodes) draws on some of the same neurocognitive processes that support episodic memory (i.e., recalling specific past episodes). Episodic retrieval supports the ability to simulate future experiences by providing access to episodic details (e.g., the people and locations that comprise memories) that can be recombined in new ways. In the current functional neuroimaging study, we test this hypothesis by examining whether the hippocampus, a region implicated in the reinstatement of episodic information during memory, supports reinstatement of episodic information during simulation. Employing a multivoxel pattern similarity analysis, we interrogated the similarity between hippocampal neural patterns during memory and simulation at the level of individual event details. Our findings indicate that the hippocampus supports the reinstatement of detail-specific information from episodic memory during simulation, with the level of reinstatement contributing to the subjective experience of simulated details.
View details for DOI 10.1093/cercor/bhz242
View details for PubMedID 31701122
Episodic specificity induction and scene construction: Evidence for an event construction account.
Consciousness and cognition
2018; 68: 1–11
Research has suggested that an episodic specificity induction (ESI)- training in recollecting details of a past event- impacts subsequent memory, imagination, problem solving, and creativity. We have hypothesized that induction effects may be attributable to event construction- the assembly and maintenance of a mental scenario filled with setting, people, and action details. We examine whether ESI impacts metrics of event detail in a standard scene construction task, which is a paradigm focused on the spatial integrity of a mental scenario and the stage upon or setting in which such a scenario occurs. Relative to a control, ESI significantly increased details generated across all categories of event detail in scene construction, including spatial references, entities present, sensory descriptions, and thoughts/emotions/actions. ESI did not influence scores on the Spatial Coherence Index, a critical measure of spatial processing. These findings inform theoretical and functional accounts of the nature and malleability of constructive retrieval.
View details for PubMedID 30576961
Core Network Contributions to Remembering the Past, Imagining the Future, and Thinking Creatively.
Journal of cognitive neuroscience
The core network refers to a set of neural regions that have been consistently associated with episodic memory retrieval and episodic future simulation. This network is thought to support the constructive thought processes that allow the retrieval and flexible combination of stored information to reconstruct past and construct novel future experiences. Recent behavioral research points to an overlap between these constructive processes and those also engaged during divergent thinking-the ability to think creatively and generate novel ideas-but the extent to which they involve common neural correlates remains unclear. Using fMRI, we sought to address this question by assessing brain activity as participants recalled past experiences, simulated future experiences, or engaged in divergent thinking. Consistent with past work, we found that episodic retrieval and future simulation activated the core network compared with a semantic control condition. Critically, a triple conjunction of episodic retrieval, future simulation, and divergent thinking revealed common engagement of core network regions, including the bilateral hippocampus and parahippocampal gyrus, as well as other regions involved in memory retrieval (inferior frontal gyrus) and mental imagery (middle occipital gyrus). The results provide further insight into the roles of the hippocampus and the core network in episodic memory retrieval, future simulation, and divergent thinking and extend recent work highlighting the involvement of constructive episodic processes in creative cognition.
View details for PubMedID 30125219
Content-specific phenomenological similarity between episodic memory and simulation.
Memory (Hove, England)
Numerous studies have indicated that remembering specific past experiences (i.e., episodic memory) and imagining specific novel future experiences (i.e., episodic simulation) are supported by common mental processes. An open question, however, is whether and to what extent the content of specific past episodes is sampled when simulating a specific future episode. The current study aimed to answer this question. Participants recalled past episodes each comprising two episodic details, a personally familiar location and person. Participants also simulated novel future episodes using recombined pairs of person and location details taken from different recalled episodes. Participants rated the vividness of each location and person in their memory and simulation. We conducted a multi-level analysis where the vividness rating during memory was used to predict the vividness rating during simulation at the level of individual shared details (i.e., location or person). The vividness of the memorial detail co-varied with the vividness of the simulated detail; this relationship persisted even after accounting for the underlying familiarity of the details. These findings strongly suggest that simulations of specific future experiences are based upon the contents of specific prior episodes.
View details for PubMedID 30122109
Better imagined: Neural correlates of the episodic simulation boost to prospective memory performance.
2018; 113: 22–28
Episodic simulation is an adaptive process that can support goal-directed activity and planning success. We investigated the neural architecture associated with the episodic simulation improvement to the likelihood of carrying out future actions by isolating the brain regions associated with this facilitation in a prospective memory paradigm. Participants performed a lexical decision task by making word/non-word judgments, with rarely occurring prospective memory target words requiring a pre-specified manual response. Prior to scanning, participants were given exposure to two lists of prospective memory targets: animals and tools. In a fully counterbalanced design, participants generated a rhyme to one target list and imagined their subsequent encounter (episodic simulation) with target words on the other list. Replicating prior behavioral work, episodic simulation improved subsequent prospective memory performance. Brain activation was assessed in a multivariate partial least squares analysis. Relative to lexical decision blocks with no prospective memory demand, sustained prospective memory replicated prior observations of frontal polar activation. Critically, maintaining the intention to respond to simulated targets, over and above rhyme targets, engaged middle frontal and angular gyri, and medial parietal and prefrontal cortices. Transient activity associated with prospective memory target hits revealed activation for simulated targets in medial prefrontal cortex, posterior cingulate, lateral temporal lobe and inferior parietal lobule. In contrast, rhyme target hits engaged more left lateralized dorsolateral prefrontal cortex and anterior insula. Episodic simulation, thus effectively shifts executive control strategy and boosts task performance. These results are consistent with a growing body of evidence implicating executive control and default network region interactions in adaptive, goal-directed behavior.
View details for PubMedID 29572062
View details for PubMedCentralID PMC5930036
Selective effects of specificity inductions on episodic details: evidence for an event construction account.
Memory (Hove, England)
Prior research has suggested that an episodic specificity induction - brief training in recollecting the details of a past event - affects downstream performance on remembering past and imagining future events, solving problems, and thinking creatively. We have hypothesised that a process common to these tasks that the induction may target is event construction - assembling and maintaining a mental scenario filled with details related to settings, people, and actions. We test this hypothesis by having participants receive a memory specificity induction, imagination specificity induction, or control induction not requiring event construction prior to memory and imagination tasks that involve event construction, and a picture description task that involves describing but not mentally constructing an event. We predicted that induction effects would be specific to episodic detail production on subsequent memory and imagination because these details assay critical elements of a constructed event. In line with an event construction account, the two specificity inductions produced significant and indistinguishable increases in the number of episodic - but not semantic - details generated during memory and imagination relative to the control. Induction did not increase detail generation on picture description. The findings provide novel evidence that event construction is a key process targeted by specificity inductions.
View details for PubMedID 30024835
Remembering the past and imagining the future: attachment effects on production of episodic details in close relationships.
Memory (Hove, England)
Attachment theories and studies have shown that Internal Working Models (IWMs) can impact autobiographical memory and future-oriented information processing relevant to close relationships. According to the constructive episodic simulation hypothesis (CESH), both remembering the past and imagining the future rely on episodic memory. We hypothesised that one way IWMs may bridge past experiences and future adaptations is via episodic memory. The present study investigated the association between attachment and episodic specificity in attachment-relevant and attachment-irrelevant memory and imagination among young and older adults. We measured the attachment style of 37 young adults and 40 older adults, and then asked them to remember or imagine attachment-relevant and attachment-irrelevant events. Participants' narratives were coded for internal details (i.e., episodic) and external details (e.g., semantic, repetitions). The results showed that across age group, secure individuals generated more internal details and fewer external details in attachment-relevant tasks compared to attachment-irrelevant tasks; these differences were not observed in insecure individuals. These findings support the CESH and provide a new perspective to understand the function of IWMs.
View details for PubMedID 29400595
A Role for the Left Angular Gyrus in Episodic Simulation and Memory.
The Journal of neuroscience : the official journal of the Society for Neuroscience
2017; 37 (34): 8142–49
Functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) studies indicate that episodic simulation (i.e., imagining specific future experiences) and episodic memory (i.e., remembering specific past experiences) are associated with enhanced activity in a common set of neural regions referred to as the core network. This network comprises the hippocampus, medial prefrontal cortex, and left angular gyrus, among other regions. Because fMRI data are correlational, it is unknown whether activity increases in core network regions are critical for episodic simulation and episodic memory. In the current study, we used MRI-guided transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) to assess whether temporary disruption of the left angular gyrus would impair both episodic simulation and memory (16 participants, 10 females). Relative to TMS to a control site (vertex), disruption of the left angular gyrus significantly reduced the number of internal (i.e., episodic) details produced during the simulation and memory tasks, with a concomitant increase in external detail production (i.e., semantic, repetitive, or off-topic information), reflected by a significant detail by TMS site interaction. Difficulty in the simulation and memory tasks also increased after TMS to the left angular gyrus relative to the vertex. In contrast, performance in a nonepisodic control task did not differ statistically as a function of TMS site (i.e., number of free associates produced or difficulty in performing the free associate task). Together, these results are the first to demonstrate that the left angular gyrus is critical for both episodic simulation and episodic memory.SIGNIFICANCE STATEMENT Humans have the ability to imagine future episodes (i.e., episodic simulation) and remember episodes from the past (i.e., episodic memory). A wealth of neuroimaging studies have revealed that these abilities are associated with enhanced activity in a core network of neural regions, including the hippocampus, medial prefrontal cortex, and left angular gyrus. However, neuroimaging data are correlational and do not tell us whether core regions support critical processes for simulation and memory. In the current study, we used transcranial magnetic stimulation and demonstrated that temporary disruption of the left angular gyrus leads to impairments in simulation and memory. The present study provides the first causal evidence to indicate that this region is critical for these fundamental abilities.
View details for PubMedID 28733357
Preparing for what might happen: An episodic specificity induction impacts the generation of alternative future events.
2017; 169: 118–28
A critical adaptive feature of future thinking involves the ability to generate alternative versions of possible future events. However, little is known about the nature of the processes that support this ability. Here we examined whether an episodic specificity induction - brief training in recollecting details of a recent experience that selectively impacts tasks that draw on episodic retrieval - (1) boosts alternative event generation and (2) changes one's initial perceptions of negative future events. In Experiment 1, an episodic specificity induction significantly increased the number of alternative positive outcomes that participants generated to a series of standardized negative events, compared with a control induction not focused on episodic specificity. We also observed larger decreases in the perceived plausibility and negativity of the original events in the specificity condition, where participants generated more alternative outcomes, relative to the control condition. In Experiment 2, we replicated and extended these findings using a series of personalized negative events. Our findings support the idea that episodic memory processes are involved in generating alternative outcomes to anticipated future events, and that boosting the number of alternative outcomes is related to subsequent changes in the perceived plausibility and valence of the original events, which may have implications for psychological well-being.
View details for PubMedID 28886407
View details for PubMedCentralID PMC5612915
Increased hippocampus to ventromedial prefrontal connectivity during the construction of episodic future events.
Both the hippocampus and ventromedial prefrontal cortex (vmPFC) appear to be critical for episodic future simulation. Damage to either structure affects one's ability to remember the past and imagine the future, and both structures are commonly activated as part of a wider core network during future simulation. However, the precise role played by each of these structures and, indeed, the direction of information flow between them during episodic simulation, is still not well understood. In this study, we scanned participants using functional magnetic resonance imaging while they imagined future events in response to object cues. We then used dynamic causal modeling to examine effective connectivity between the left anterior hippocampus and vmPFC during the initial mental construction of the events. Our results show that while there is strong bidirectional intrinsic connectivity between these regions (i.e., irrespective of task conditions), only the hippocampus to vmPFC connection increases during the construction of episodic future events, suggesting that the hippocampus initiates event simulation in response to retrieval cues, driving activation in the vmPFC where episodic details may be further integrated.
View details for PubMedID 29116660
Neural Mechanisms of Episodic Retrieval Support Divergent Creative Thinking.
Cerebral cortex (New York, N.Y. : 1991)
Prior research has indicated that brain regions and networks that support semantic memory, top-down and bottom-up attention, and cognitive control are all involved in divergent creative thinking. Kernels of evidence suggest that neural processes supporting episodic memory-the retrieval of particular elements of prior experiences-may also be involved in divergent thinking, but such processes have typically been characterized as not very relevant for, or even a hindrance to, creative output. In the present study, we combine functional magnetic resonance imaging with an experimental manipulation to test formally, for the first time, episodic memory's involvement in divergent thinking. Following a manipulation that facilitates detailed episodic retrieval, we observed greater neural activity in the hippocampus and stronger connectivity between a core brain network linked to episodic processing and a frontoparietal brain network linked to cognitive control during divergent thinking relative to an object association control task that requires little divergent thinking. Stronger coupling following the retrieval manipulation extended to a subsequent resting-state scan. Neural effects of the episodic manipulation were consistent with behavioral effects of enhanced idea production on divergent thinking but not object association. The results indicate that conceptual frameworks should accommodate the idea that episodic retrieval can function as a component process of creative idea generation, and highlight how the brain flexibly utilizes the retrieval of episodic details for tasks beyond simple remembering.
View details for PubMedID 29161358
Episodic specificity induction impacts activity in a core brain network during construction of imagined future experiences
PROCEEDINGS OF THE NATIONAL ACADEMY OF SCIENCES OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA
2016; 113 (38): 10696-10701
Recent behavioral work suggests that an episodic specificity induction-brief training in recollecting the details of a past experience-enhances performance on subsequent tasks that rely on episodic retrieval, including imagining future experiences, solving open-ended problems, and thinking creatively. Despite these far-reaching behavioral effects, nothing is known about the neural processes impacted by an episodic specificity induction. Related neuroimaging work has linked episodic retrieval with a core network of brain regions that supports imagining future experiences. We tested the hypothesis that key structures in this network are influenced by the specificity induction. Participants received the specificity induction or one of two control inductions and then generated future events and semantic object comparisons during fMRI scanning. After receiving the specificity induction compared with the control, participants exhibited significantly more activity in several core network regions during the construction of imagined events over object comparisons, including the left anterior hippocampus, right inferior parietal lobule, right posterior cingulate cortex, and right ventral precuneus. Induction-related differences in the episodic detail of imagined events significantly modulated induction-related differences in the construction of imagined events in the left anterior hippocampus and right inferior parietal lobule. Resting-state functional connectivity analyses with hippocampal and inferior parietal lobule seed regions and the rest of the brain also revealed significantly stronger core network coupling following the specificity induction compared with the control. These findings provide evidence that an episodic specificity induction selectively targets episodic processes that are commonly linked to key core network regions, including the hippocampus.
View details for DOI 10.1073/pnas.1612278113
View details for Web of Science ID 000383622600064
View details for PubMedID 27601666
View details for PubMedCentralID PMC5035866
Divergent creative thinking in young and older adults: Extending the effects of an episodic specificity induction
MEMORY & COGNITION
2016; 44 (6): 974-988
Recent research has suggested that an episodic specificity induction-brief training in recollecting the details of a past experience-enhances divergent creative thinking on the alternate uses task (AUT) in young adults, without affecting performance on tasks thought to involve little divergent thinking; however, the generalizability of these results to other populations and tasks is unknown. In the present experiments, we examined whether the effects of an episodic specificity induction would extend to older adults and a different index of divergent thinking, the consequences task. In Experiment 1, the specificity induction significantly enhanced divergent thinking on the AUT in both young and older adults, as compared with a control induction not requiring specific episodic retrieval; performance on a task involving little divergent thinking (generating associates for common objects) did not vary as a function of induction. No overall age-related differences were observed on either task. In Experiment 2, the specificity induction significantly enhanced divergent thinking (in terms of generating consequences of novel scenarios) in young adults, relative to another control induction not requiring episodic retrieval. To examine the types of creative ideas affected by the induction, the participants in both experiments also labeled each of their divergent-thinking responses as an "old idea" from memory or a "new idea" from imagination. New, and to some extent old, ideas were significantly boosted following the specificity induction relative to the control. These experiments provide novel evidence that an episodic specificity induction can boost divergent thinking in young and older adults, and indicate that episodic memory is involved in multiple divergent-thinking tasks.
View details for DOI 10.3758/s13421-016-0605-z
View details for Web of Science ID 000381391500012
View details for PubMedID 27001170
View details for PubMedCentralID PMC4975991
Remembering the past and imagining the future: Identifying and enhancing the contribution of episodic memory
2016; 9 (3): 245-255
Recent studies have shown that imagining or simulating future events relies on many of the same cognitive and neural processes as remembering past events. According to the constructive episodic simulation hypothesis (Schacter and Addis, 2007), such overlap indicates that both remembered past and imagined future events rely heavily on episodic memory: future simulations are built on retrieved details of specific past experiences that are recombined into novel events. An alternative possibility is that commonalities between remembering and imagining reflect the influence of more general, non-episodic factors such as narrative style or communicative goals that shape the expression of both memory and imagination. We consider recent studies that distinguish the contributions of episodic and non-episodic processes in remembering the past and imagining the future by using an episodic specificity induction - brief training in recollecting the details of a past experience - and also extend this approach to the domains of problem solving and creative thinking. We conclude by suggesting that the specificity induction may target a process of scene construction that contributes to episodic memory as well as to imagination, problem solving, and creative thinking.
View details for DOI 10.1177/1750698016645230
View details for Web of Science ID 000380018200002
View details for PubMedID 28163775
View details for PubMedCentralID PMC5289412
Worrying About the Future: An Episodic Specificity Induction Impacts Problem Solving, Reappraisal, and Well-Being
JOURNAL OF EXPERIMENTAL PSYCHOLOGY-GENERAL
2016; 145 (4): 402-418
Previous research has demonstrated that an episodic specificity induction--brief training in recollecting details of a recent experience--enhances performance on various subsequent tasks thought to draw upon episodic memory processes. Existing work has also shown that mental simulation can be beneficial for emotion regulation and coping with stressors. Here we focus on understanding how episodic detail can affect problem solving, reappraisal, and psychological well-being regarding worrisome future events. In Experiment 1, an episodic specificity induction significantly improved participants' performance on a subsequent means-end problem solving task (i.e., more relevant steps) and an episodic reappraisal task (i.e., more episodic details) involving personally worrisome future events compared with a control induction not focused on episodic specificity. Imagining constructive behaviors with increased episodic detail via the specificity induction was also related to significantly larger decreases in anxiety, perceived likelihood of a bad outcome, and perceived difficulty to cope with a bad outcome, as well as larger increases in perceived likelihood of a good outcome and indicated use of active coping behaviors compared with the control. In Experiment 2, we extended these findings using a more stringent control induction, and found preliminary evidence that the specificity induction was related to an increase in positive affect and decrease in negative affect compared with the control. Our findings support the idea that episodic memory processes are involved in means-end problem solving and episodic reappraisal, and that increasing the episodic specificity of imagining constructive behaviors regarding worrisome events may be related to improved psychological well-being.
View details for DOI 10.1037/xge0000142
View details for Web of Science ID 000372550600004
View details for PubMedID 26820166
View details for PubMedCentralID PMC4792686
Remembering the past and imagining the future: Selective effects of an episodic specificity induction on detail generation
QUARTERLY JOURNAL OF EXPERIMENTAL PSYCHOLOGY
2016; 69 (2): 285-298
According to the constructive episodic simulation hypothesis, remembering past experiences and imagining future experiences both rely heavily on episodic memory. However, recent research indicates that nonepisodic processes such as descriptive ability also influence memory and imagination. We recently found that an episodic specificity induction--brief training in recollecting details of past experiences--enhanced detail generation on memory and imagination tasks but not a picture description task and thereby concluded that the induction can dissociate episodic processes involved in remembering the past and imagining the future from those nonepisodic processes involved in description. To evaluate the generality of our previous findings and to examine the role of generative search in producing those findings, we modified our paradigm so that word cues replaced picture cues, and a word comparison task that requires generation of sentences and word definitions replaced picture description. Young adult participants received either a specificity induction or one of two control inductions before completing the memory, imagination, and word comparison tasks. Replicating and extending our previous work, we found that the specificity induction increased detail generation in memory and imagination without having an effect on word comparison. The induction's selective effect on memory and imagination stemmed from an increase in internal (i.e., on-topic and episodic) details and had no effect on external (e.g., off-topic or semantic) details. The results point to the efficacy of the specificity induction for isolating episodic processes involved in remembering the past and imagining the future even when a nonepisodic task requires generative search.
View details for DOI 10.1080/17470218.2014.999097
View details for Web of Science ID 000370879700007
View details for PubMedID 25529786
View details for PubMedCentralID PMC4545482
Creativity and Memory: Effects of an Episodic-Specificity Induction on Divergent Thinking
2015; 26 (9): 1461-1468
People produce more episodic details when imagining future events and solving means-end problems after receiving an episodic-specificity induction-brief training in recollecting details of a recent event-than after receiving a control induction not focused on episodic retrieval. Here we show for the first time that an episodic-specificity induction also enhances divergent creative thinking. In Experiment 1, participants exhibited a selective boost on a divergent-thinking task (generating unusual uses of common objects) after a specificity induction compared with a control induction; by contrast, performance following the two inductions was similar on an object association task thought to involve little divergent thinking. In Experiment 2, we replicated the specificity-induction effect on divergent thinking using a different control induction, and also found that participants performed similarly on a convergent-thinking task following the two inductions. These experiments provide novel evidence that episodic memory is involved in divergent creative thinking.
View details for DOI 10.1177/0956797615591863
View details for Web of Science ID 000361171200012
View details for PubMedID 26205963
View details for PubMedCentralID PMC4567456
Future planning: default network activity couples with frontoparietal control network and reward-processing regions during process and outcome simulations
SOCIAL COGNITIVE AND AFFECTIVE NEUROSCIENCE
2014; 9 (12): 1942-1951
We spend much of our daily lives imagining how we can reach future goals and what will happen when we attain them. Despite the prevalence of such goal-directed simulations, neuroimaging studies on planning have mainly focused on executive processes in the frontal lobe. This experiment examined the neural basis of process simulations, during which participants imagined themselves going through steps toward attaining a goal, and outcome simulations, during which participants imagined events they associated with achieving a goal. In the scanner, participants engaged in these simulation tasks and an odd/even control task. We hypothesized that process simulations would recruit default and frontoparietal control network regions, and that outcome simulations, which allow us to anticipate the affective consequences of achieving goals, would recruit default and reward-processing regions. Our analysis of brain activity that covaried with process and outcome simulations confirmed these hypotheses. A functional connectivity analysis with posterior cingulate, dorsolateral prefrontal cortex and anterior inferior parietal lobule seeds showed that their activity was correlated during process simulations and associated with a distributed network of default and frontoparietal control network regions. During outcome simulations, medial prefrontal cortex and amygdala seeds covaried together and formed a functional network with default and reward-processing regions.
View details for DOI 10.1093/scan/nsu001
View details for Web of Science ID 000350105900011
View details for PubMedID 24493844
View details for PubMedCentralID PMC4249471
An Episodic Specificity Induction Enhances Means-End Problem Solving in Young and Older Adults
PSYCHOLOGY AND AGING
2014; 29 (4): 913-924
Episodic memory plays an important role not only in remembering past experiences, but also in constructing simulations of future experiences and solving means-end social problems. We recently found that an episodic specificity induction-brief training in recollecting details of past experiences-enhances performance of young and older adults on memory and imagination tasks. Here we tested the hypothesis that this specificity induction would also positively impact a means-end problem-solving task on which age-related changes have been linked to impaired episodic memory. Young and older adults received the specificity induction or a control induction before completing a means-end problem-solving task, as well as memory and imagination tasks. Consistent with previous findings, older adults provided fewer relevant steps on problem solving than did young adults, and their responses also contained fewer internal (i.e., episodic) details across the 3 tasks. There was no difference in the number of other (e.g., irrelevant) steps on problem solving or external (i.e., semantic) details generated on the 3 tasks as a function of age. Critically, the specificity induction increased the number of relevant steps and internal details (but not other steps or external details) that both young and older adults generated in problem solving compared with the control induction, as well as the number of internal details (but not external details) generated for memory and imagination. Our findings support the idea that episodic retrieval processes are involved in means-end problem solving, extend the range of tasks on which a specificity induction targets these processes, and show that the problem-solving performance of older adults can benefit from a specificity induction as much as that of young adults.
View details for DOI 10.1037/a0038209
View details for Web of Science ID 000346277900016
View details for PubMedID 25365688
View details for PubMedCentralID PMC4268420
Constructive Episodic Simulation: Dissociable Effects of a Specificity Induction on Remembering, Imagining, and Describing in Young and Older Adults
JOURNAL OF EXPERIMENTAL PSYCHOLOGY-LEARNING MEMORY AND COGNITION
2014; 40 (3): 609-622
According to the constructive episodic simulation hypothesis (Schacter & Addis, 2007), both remembered past and imagined future events rely heavily on episodic memory. An alternative hypothesis is that observed similarities between remembering and imagining reflect the influence of broader factors such as descriptive ability, narrative style, or inhibitory control. We attempted to distinguish between these 2 hypotheses by examining the impact of an episodic specificity induction on memory, imagination, and picture description in young and older adults. In Experiment 1, participants received the specificity induction or a control induction prior to the memory, imagination, and description tasks. Older adults provided fewer internal (i.e., episodic) and more external (i.e., semantic) details than young adults across the 3 tasks irrespective of induction. Critically, however, the specificity induction selectively increased internal but not external details for memory and imagination in both age groups compared with the control induction. By contrast, the induction did not affect internal (or external) details for picture description. Experiment 2 replicated these results in young adults using a different control induction. Our findings point to a dissociation between episodic processes involved in memory and imagination and nonepisodic processes involved in picture description.
View details for DOI 10.1037/a0034885
View details for Web of Science ID 000335220200001
View details for PubMedID 24188466
View details for PubMedCentralID PMC4006318