Document Type

Open Access Thesis

Embargo Period

4-11-2017

Degree Program

Psychology

Degree Type

Master of Science (M.S.)

Year Degree Awarded

2017

Month Degree Awarded

May

Advisor Name

Rosemary Cowell

Advisor Middle Initial

A.

Advisor Last Name

Cowell

Abstract

Past research has supported a representational-hierarchical theory of memory and perception that extends the ventral visual stream into the medial temporal lobe. In this account, representations are organized in a hierarchical manner, such that structures located further anterior in the brain contain complex representations of whole objects and areas further posterior in the visual cortex contain representations of simple features. When conjunctive representations are compromised, an individual must rely on simple-feature representations to complete mnemonic and perceptual tasks. However, these simple-feature representations are susceptible to feature-level interference, which can cause false recognition of novel objects. The goal of the present study was to explore the account’s third assumption: the effect of interference. Experiment 1 examined the effect of interference on neural representations during fMRI. Experiment 2 investigated the effect of different types of interference on a behavioral memory task with older adults thought to have impaired conjunctive representations. Although the results of the first experiment were inconclusive, the second experiment revealed that older adults’ recognition memory performance was shielded from semantic, but not perceptual, interference. The implications of this finding are discussed.

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