Autobiographical memory specificity and mnemonic discrimination
Autobiographical memory specificity (AMS), which is the tendency to recall events that occurred at a particular time and place, enables everyday functioning, such as well-being and social problem-solving skills. A mechanism that may be important for AMS, hinting at the neural basis, is the possibility that pattern separation of similar events contributes to AMS. Pattern separation is an essential component of episodic memory and may allow us to encode and retain the unique aspects of events,
... ing it easier to retrieve event-specific knowledge during retrieval. We examined the hypothesis that poor pattern separation is associated with a low proportion of specific memories and a high proportion of categoric memories derived from a lack of details regarding events. In Experiment 1 (N = 94) and Experiment 2 (preregistered; N = 99), participants completed the Autobiographical Memory Test (AMT), which measures AMS, and a pattern separation measure. We coded AMT responses conventionally and then further classified the categoric memory responses based on abstract representations that contained words denoting high frequency and those derived from lacking context information such as when and/or where event occurs. As predicted, the lure discrimination score was positively correlated with specific memories and negatively correlated with categoric memories derived from lacking context information. These results were invariant when controlling for participants' characteristics, general intelligence, and recognition measures. We propose to distinguish between these two types of general categoric memory and discuss the development of an integrative model of autobiographical memory structure.