Date of Award

Summer 8-17-2012

Degree Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Department

Psychology

First Advisor

David A. Washburn

Second Advisor

Michael J. Beran

Abstract

Comparative research on event memory has typically focused on the binding of spatial and temporal information in memory, but much less is known about how animals remember information about the source of their memories (i.e., whether the event is something they performed themselves or whether they observed it). The purpose of the present study was to examine how rhesus monkeys (n = 8) and 3- to 4- year-old children (n = 20) remember this information along with other relevant event features (object identity, spatial location, temporal properties and contextual features) in working memory. In Experiment 1, rhesus monkeys completed five different delayed matching-to-sample tasks to assess independent encoding of these five event components. In Experiment 2, the monkeys either performed or observed an event and then had to respond to a randomly selected pair of memory tests used in the previous experiment. In Experiment 3, children were presented with the same memory task, but were given a brief demonstration to learn how to perform the task. Both children and monkeys responded to these tests using photos and shapes (for the identity and spatial tests) and icons (for the temporal, agency and context tests). The monkeys demonstrated significantly above-chance performance on the identity, spatial, temporal and agency tasks. The children were above chance on the one component the monkeys had difficulty with (context), but conversely demonstrated difficulty on the temporal memory test. There was evidence of feature integration in both monkeys and children. Specifically, the children were significantly more likely to respond correctly to the second memory test if they had also been correct on the first memory test. Two of five rhesus monkeys also showed this effect, indicating that for these individuals, the features were integrated in working memory. Implications of this research are discussed in relation to self-awareness and episodic memory research in children and nonhuman species.

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