Cristiane Souza, a PhD candidate in the Doctoral program in Psychology, will defend her thesis titled "Declarative memories in interaction: Episodic system engagement in semantic-based encoding and retrieval". The public defense is scheduled for March 24 at 14:00 in the B104 Auditorium of the Iscte-University Institute of Lisbon. Please note that the presentation will be in portuguese.
Episodic (context-dependent) and semantic (abstract-like) memories often appear dissociated in the literature. Recently, the interdependence between these two memory systems has gained renewed interest, but its functional and structural aspects still require clarification. This work addresses the interdependence between episodic and semantic memories by examining the episodic system involvement in encoding and retrieving conceptual knowledge enriched with episodic representations (item-typicality and proper names). Two memory tasks manipulating conceptual knowledge (schemas versus item-typicality and common versus proper names) during encoding or retrieval were used in samples of healthy young adults and samples with episodic constraints or deterioration (aging and autistic individuals). We also examined the dynamics of the episodic and semantic systems interdependence with neurophysiological measures. In seven articles, we: a) reviewed, produced, and normed stimulus materials; b) showed that episodic and semantic systems interact when processing conceptual knowledge supported by episodic representations, c) uncovered the relevance of the episodic system and its connections in this interdependence, showing that older adults and autistic individuals are less efficient in using atypical information to improve episodic retrieval, and that older adult were able to use schematic information to compensate their episodic loss, d) exposed the episodic-dependent nature of proper names, and e) established the functional and neural dissociation between semantic and episodic-based process and their interdependence. This work informs neurocognitive approaches of declarative memories interaction and categorization models. From an applied perspective, these findings provide inputs to assessment and intervention contexts while encouraging comprehensive models of early diagnosis and memory rehabilitation.