Master of Science
David F. Sherry
Episodic memory is the ability to remember previously experienced past events (Tulving, 1992). An important component of episodic memory is autonoetic consciousness. Autonoetic consciousness is self-awareness that you personally experienced an event (Tulving, 1995). Historically, episodic memory was thought to be a purely human ability but recently episodic memory has been tested in animals by using what-where-when paradigms. Since autonoetic consciousness is not examined in animals, it is referred to as episodic-like memory.
The social component of episodic-like memory has not previously been examined in animals. The current study modified the what-where-when paradigm to test who and when components of episodic-like memory. In the first experiment, subordinate birds were required to associate a short retention interval (SRI) with the dominant bird being present and a long retention interval (LRI) with the dominant bird being absent. Dominant birds hinder the ability of a subordinate bird to access food. Episodic-like memory of who and when was demonstrated in SRI probe trials in which the dominant bird was absent. Subordinate birds behaved on SRI probe trials as if the dominant bird was present. In Experiment 2, the interval at which the dominant bird appeared was reversed. Subordinate birds behaved on LRI probe trials as if the dominant bird was present, when the dominant bird was actually absent. These results provide evidence for who and when components of episodic-like memory by requiring recollection of how long ago an individual last experienced a social encounter and using this to predict the absence or presence of a dominant bird.
Wiechers, Alisha A., "Social Episodic-Like Memory in the Black-Capped Chickadee (Poecile Atricapillus)" (2012). University of Western Ontario - Electronic Thesis and Dissertation Repository. Paper 726.