Playing "Guess who?": When an Episodic Specificity Induction increases trace distinctiveness and reduces memory errors during event reconstruction


**The constructive nature of memory implies a possible confusion between details of similar events. Memory interventions should thus target the reduction of memory errors. We postulate that a brief intervention called Episodic Specificity Induction (ESI) facilitates the sensorimotor simulation of event-related details by improving the distinctiveness of the event memory trace. As such, ESI should reduce memory errors only when event memory traces are strongly overlapping based on their sensorimotor features. Participants memorised videos showing characters performing an action on a given object. The characters were either visually very similar to each other or very distinct (low vs. high distinctiveness condition). Next, participants performed either an imagination version of the ESI or a control induction. Finally, a voice announced one of the actions seen and a character was then briefly displayed. The participants had to indicate whether the association was correct. For incorrect associations, in the low distinctiveness condition, false alarms were more likely than in the high distinctiveness condition and were reduced after the ESI. It suggests that facilitating the simulation of specific details through the ESI increased trace distinctiveness and reduced memory errors at the critical time of event reconstruction. Future clinical applications might be possible.

Memory, 30, 505-518.