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Adaptive memory: animacy processing produces mnemonic advantages.

Authors
  • VanArsdall, Joshua E
  • Nairne, James S
  • Pandeirada, Josefa N S
  • Blunt, Janell R
Type
Published Article
Journal
Experimental psychology
Publication Date
Jan 01, 2013
Volume
60
Issue
3
Pages
172–178
Identifiers
DOI: 10.1027/1618-3169/a000186
PMID: 23261948
Source
Medline
License
Unknown

Abstract

It is adaptive to remember animates, particularly animate agents, because they play an important role in survival and reproduction. Yet, surprisingly, the role of animacy in mnemonic processing has received little direct attention in the literature. In two experiments, participants were presented with pronounceable nonwords and properties characteristic of either living (animate) or nonliving (inanimate) things. The task was to rate the likelihood that each nonword-property pair represented a living thing or a nonliving object. In Experiment 1, a subsequent recognition memory test for the nonwords revealed a significant advantage for the nonwords paired with properties of living things. To generalize this finding, Experiment 2 replicated the animate advantage using free recall. These data demonstrate a new phenomenon in the memory literature - a possible mnemonic tuning for animacy - and add to growing data supporting adaptive memory theory.

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