The benefits and boundary conditions of drawing on episodic memory
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Drawing, as an encoding strategy for to-be-remembered words, has previously been shown to provide robust episodic memory benefits in young adults. In this dissertation, I provide experimental evidence that drawing enhances memory in both healthy older adults and individuals with probable dementia. In Experiments 1 to 5, I showed that these populations demonstrated superior episodic memory as measured by free recall for common nouns that had been drawn rather than written during encoding. I suggest that incorporating visuo-perceptual information into the memory trace by drawing pictures enhances memory by increasing reliance on visual-sensory brain regions, which are relatively intact in normal aging and dementia. Further, I provide findings regarding the boundary conditions of the drawing effect, in Experiments 6 to 8, demonstrating that drawing is only beneficial when it is semantically related to the to-be-remembered information. Finally, in Experiments 9 to 11, I demonstrate that while drawing boosts memory for studied information, it also makes one more susceptible to having false memories for related information, than does either writing or mental imagery. These findings suggest that drawing enhances memory by promoting recollection of rich visual contextual and semantic information during retrieval, and this leads to the unintended side effect of increasing false alarm rates to related information. Overall, the findings in this dissertation refine the theoretical explanation for the drawing effect by establishing a variety of circumstances in which drawing is, and is not, beneficial for memory performance.
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Melissa Meade (2019). The benefits and boundary conditions of drawing on episodic memory. UWSpace. http://hdl.handle.net/10012/15082