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Using Virtual Reality to Unpack the Benefits of Context-Dependent Memory

Koch, Griffin E. (2024) Using Virtual Reality to Unpack the Benefits of Context-Dependent Memory. Doctoral Dissertation, University of Pittsburgh. (Unpublished)

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How does our environment impact what we will later remember? Early work in real-world environments suggested that having matching encoding/retrieval contexts improves memory. However, some laboratory-based studies have failed to replicate this advantageous context- dependent memory effect. Using virtual reality methods, this work identified circumstances when context-dependent memory effects were most likely to be found. In Study 1, I examined the influence of memory schema and dynamic environments. Participants (N = 240) remembered more objects when in the same virtual environment (context) as during encoding. This benefit to recall memory, however, traded-off with falsely ‘recognizing’ more similar lures. Experimentally manipulating the virtual objects and environments revealed that a relevant object/environment schema aids recall (but not recognition), though a dynamic background does not. In Study 2, I examined whether grasping and interacting with objects would benefit recognition memory, compared to merely looking at the objects. Participants (N = 60) were no more likely to correctly recognize objects that they were able to grasp when making judgments about whether they had been previously seen or not. Furthermore, the virtual reality paradigm was designed to be employed not only for in-lab data collection (Study 1 and 2), but also for remote, world-wide data collection. Advantages and disadvantages of implementing this type of remote virtual reality data collection procedure are discussed. The findings presented here further our understanding of when and how context affects our memory through a more naturalistic approach to studying such effects.


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Item Type: University of Pittsburgh ETD
Status: Unpublished
CreatorsEmailPitt UsernameORCID
Koch, Griffin E.gek21@pitt.eduGEK210000-0001-5844-5051
ETD Committee:
TitleMemberEmail AddressPitt UsernameORCID
Committee ChairCoutanche,
Committee MemberFraundorf,
Committee MemberNokes-Malach,
Committee MemberSt. Jacques,
Date: 10 January 2024
Date Type: Publication
Defense Date: 29 August 2023
Approval Date: 10 January 2024
Submission Date: 8 December 2023
Access Restriction: 2 year -- Restrict access to University of Pittsburgh for a period of 2 years.
Number of Pages: 135
Institution: University of Pittsburgh
Schools and Programs: Dietrich School of Arts and Sciences > Psychology
Degree: PhD - Doctor of Philosophy
Thesis Type: Doctoral Dissertation
Refereed: Yes
Uncontrolled Keywords: episodic memory, virtual reality, recall, recognition
Date Deposited: 10 Jan 2024 13:57
Last Modified: 10 Jan 2024 13:57


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