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Episodic and Semantic Memory

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Martin Ralph

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Episodic and Semantic MemoryEpisodic memory memory for specific autobiographical events Includes spatial and temporal information about the context where and when things occurred etc Information we rememberSemantic Memory memories for facts and general knowledge about the world It is not tagged in time or space Information we knowEpisodic Memories and Semantic MemoriesThese share two key features they can be communicated flexibly in different formats than the one in which they where originally encoded This flexibility may seem trivial but in fact its hard to communicate many memories in other ways than how they where originally learned motor memoriesprocedural memories Both are also generally accessible to conscious recall You know whether you remember the event or fact or if you dont If you have forgotten it temporarily you will usually know that youll remember it eventually A lot of memory is not accessible in this way like skill learning Declarative memory is the larger umbrella of memory that includes both semantic and episodic memory it is also known as explicit memory This contrasts with non declarative or implicit memory memory that is not always consciously accessible or easy to verbalizeDifferences between Episodic and Semantic MemoryEpisodic memory has autobiographical content things that happened to you and when or where they occurred Is acquired in a single exposure one event etc Repeated exposure weakens the memory Semantic memory you do not necessarily have to remember how or when you learned the information Generally needs a few additional exposures to be fully acquired facts may be hard to remember right off the bat Repeated exposure strengthens the memoryWhich comes firstOne possibility is that episodic grows out of semantic In this view a certain amount of semantic memories have to be had first in order for episodic memories to be formed on their framework Another idea is that semantic memory is information we have encountered so many times that the episodic memory becomes blurred and only the facts remain Can animals have episodic memoryThere is a suggestion that animals have general semantic memories about things like aversive environments etc In regards to episodic memories however some researchers like Tulving believed that animals could not have them In their opinion because episodic memories require mental time travel selfawareness and consciousnessthat since animals dont possess either they cant have episodic memories
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