A sensorimotor account of scenario construction in episodic memory
10:15 AM - 10:45 AM
Wed Feb 17, 2021
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Recent work in cognitive science depicts episodic remembering as a generative process involving scenario construction. Such accounts readily adapt to the growing consensus that the memory system involves the simulation of past events. But it remains unclear how scenarios ground both memory traces as well as the agentive, social and emotional aspects of our memories. This paper develops a naturalistic account of scenario construction by taking inspiration from developments in situated cognition and predictive processing. Approaches in situated cognition suggest that episodic remembering crucially depends on imaginative simulation. Insights from predictive processing support the notion that experienced events leave minimal traces, devoid of representational content, in the hippocampus that then help 'predict the past' when triggered with sparse sensory input. Taken together, developments in these areas ground a model of generative episodic remembering that casts scenarios as the representational outcome of processes of embodied, sensorimotor re-activation. Casting scenarios as the outcome of sensorimotor processes enables an understanding of a memory trace as causal yet nonrepresentational, while simultaneously anchoring the agentive, social and emotional aspects of remembering in active bodily engagement. In proposing the preceding model, this paper contributes to a naturalistic account of memory scenarios that is phenomenologically rich and empirically plausible.

Anco Peeters Postdoctoral Research Fellow, Ruhr University Bochum, Germany