The roles of isolation and differentiation in enhanced oddball memory

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2005

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Abstract

What makes a person, event, or object memorable? Enhanced memory for oddball items has been long established, but the basis for these effects is not well understood. This dissertation offers a novel way to think about novelty that clarifies the roles of isolation and differentiation in establishing new memories. According to the isolation account, items that are highly dissimilar to other items are better remembered. In contrast, recent category learning studies suggest that oddball items are better remembered because they must be differentiated from other similar items. The present work pits the differentiation and isolation accounts against each other. The results suggest that differentiation, not isolation, leads to more accurate memory for deviant items. In contrast, gains for isolated items are attributable to reduced confusion with other items, as opposed to preferential storage.

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