Episodic Memory

The mechanism of human memory recall is neither a parallel nor a sequential retrieval of previously learned events. Instead, it is a complex system that has elements of both sequential and parallel modalities, engaging all of the sensory faculties of the individual. On an everyday level, issues about memory and recall affect everyone. It has a bearing on ramifications from the trivial to matters of life and death. Thus, a particular student might worry about his or her ability to remember \'memorized\' material, a person might worry about losing his or her mind, and, there are the more troubling issue of diseases affecting memory such as Alzheimer\'s disease. According to Tulving, episodic memory represents only a small part of the much larger domain of memory (Tulving, 1992, p.1). Specifically, episodic memory is the process involved in remembering past events. This paper is a review of research findings on episodic memory with specific attention to episodic memory in adults and infants.

Episodic Memory in Adults
In society, it is quite common for people in their golden years or even well before that, to worry about losing their memory. There is scientific evidence to support this notion of degradation of memory with age. It is now well known in neurology that brain cells die off as one ages. Verhaeghen and Marcoen (1993, pp. 172-178) found that the decline associated with age in relation to the ability to perform episodic memory tasks involving deliberate recall appears to be largely a quantitative rather than a qualitative phenomenon. The ability of older adults to recall individual items in lists, or ideas in texts could be predicted based on the performance by younger adults on the same tasks. From their data in a sample of 48 younger and 45 older adults, they postulated a relationship between recall and age with a median correlation of r = .88. The same item characteristics could be used to predict probability of recall by younger or older adults.
Kliegl and Lindenberger (1993, pp. 617-637) tested a model for correct recall and intrusions in cued recall of word lists. Intrusions are defined as false responses that were correct in an earlier list. The model assumes three exclusive states for memory traces after encoding; 1) with a list tag-with information about list origin, 2) without list tags, and 3) missing. Across lists, a trace can lose its list tag or it\'s content. For retrieval, an optimal strategy of response selection was assumed. Younger and older laboratory-trained mnemonists participated in two separate experiments in which recall of permutations of a single word list across a single set of cued was held constant with individually adjusted presentation times. They reported that younger adults were more apt to have correct recall, while older adults were more susceptible to intrusions. Age differences were restricted to model parameters estimating the probability of generation of list tags.
In another study, Denney and Lasen (1994, pp. 270-275) compared the ability of youngsters and adults to remember specific information and / or information related to a particular context. They investigated the ability of individuals not just to remember some given information, but also the ability to connect specific information related to a context. The study involved eighty adults in a bimodally stratified age range. The subjects were either between 18 and 30 years of age or 60 and 85 years. They were shown slides containing a word related to a specific information. Denney and Lasen concluded that although the elderly have memory problems, it is not with regard to remembering specific information. In a study of adults with a similar bimodal age distribution, (eighteen men, 18- to 26-years-olds and eighteen men, 60- to 79-year-olds), Jennings, Nebes, and Yovetich (1990, pp. 77-91) hypothesized that older volunteers allocate more attentional resources to memory maintenance than do younger volunteers. Allocation of a resource supporting memory maintenance was inferred from performance and cardiovascular measures. Individuals performed a serial memory task both as a \'single task\' and as a \'dual task\' that added simple reaction time stimuli. Jennings et al. found that items presented early or later in the serial list created relatively low and high memory loads, respectively. The results of this task-oriented experiment suggested that older men allocated greater attention to memory maintenance, particularly