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Contributions from autobiographical memory to lexical representation McKinnon, Audrey Alison


The purpose of this study was to investigate the nature of the interaction between autobiographical memory and lexical representation in semantic memory. To evaluate whether improved lexical access could be due to a reduction of cognitive load, the effects of discourse type on lexical specificity were also examined. The data were obtained from conversations with a subject diagnosed with probable Alzheimer's disease. Measures of informativeness using the Correct Information Unit analysis (Nicholas & Brookshire, 1993) and lexical specificity using a noun specificity analysis, noun classification analysis and unique adjective analysis were used to analyze texts representing recent and remote, personal and public memories, and across discourse types (a procedure, a fairytale, events, descriptions). The results showed that the personal memory texts had the greatest informativeness and lexical specificity across memory types. The remote-recent memory distinction varied, but the remote memories generally led to better lexical specificity than the recent ones. Finally, discourse type did not have an effect on lexical specificity, but did not have an effect on informativeness. The conclusion was that there are connections between semantic memory and autobiographical that lead to improved access and to use of lexically specific words.

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