Episodic Effects on Picture Identification for Alcoholic Korsakoff Patients
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Experience with degraded pictures produces better subsequent identification of these pictures in amnesic patients. To examine the contribution of episodic memory to this facilitation, we compared identification of pictures that were identical to a studied picture, pictures that shared the same name with a studied picture, and new, unstudied pictures. In an initial phase of the experiment, patients clarified each picture until they could name it. During a second phase, they again clarified each picture and judged whether it was identical, similar (same-name), or different from pictures identified in the first phase. Korsakoff patients, as well as alcoholic controls, identified identical pictures faster than same-name pictures, and these in turn were identified faster than new pictures. The Korsakoff patients did show less facilitation than the alcoholic controls, but this difference was eliminated by testing the alcoholics after a week delay. The smaller facilitation in performance shown by amnesics and by alcoholics tested after a delay was accompanied by impaired recognition memory as well as by qualitative differences in recognition performance. The Korsakoff patients tended to label same-name pictures as different while alcoholic controls tested immediately called them identical, a tendency which disappeared when alcoholics were tested after a delay. These findings suggest that Korsakoff patients are influenced by specific episodic information even more than are alcoholic controls.
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