Synthese 193 (5):1345-1385 (2016)

Authors
Markus Werning
Ruhr-Universität Bochum
Abstract
Colloquially, episodic memory is described as “the memory of personally experienced events”. Even though episodic memory has been studied in psychology and neuroscience for about six decades, there is still great uncertainty as to what episodic memory is. Here we ask how episodic memory should be characterized in order to be validated as a natural kind. We propose to conceive of episodic memory as a knowledge-like state that is identified with an experientially based mnemonic representation of an episode that allows for a mnemonic simulation thereof. We call our analysis the Sequence Analysis of Episodic Memory since episodes will be analyzed in terms of sequences of events. Our philosophical analysis of episodic memory is driven and supported by experimental results from psychology and neuroscience. We discuss selected experimental results that provide exemplary evidence for uniform causal mechanisms underlying the properties of episodic memory and argue that episodic memory is a natural kind. The argumentation proceeds along three cornerstones: First, psychological evidence suggests that a violation of any of the proposed conditions for episodic memory amounts to a deficiency of episodic memory and no form of memory or cognitive process but episodic memory fulfills them. Second, empirical results support a claim that the principal anatomical substrate of episodic memory is the hippocampus. Finally, we can pin down causal mechanisms onto neural activities in the hippocampus to explain the psychological states and processes constituting episodic memory
Keywords Events  Neural sequences  Replay  Mental time travel  Memory trace  Mnemonic simulation
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DOI 10.1007/s11229-014-0628-6
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References found in this work BETA

Epistemology and Cognition.Alvin I. Goldman - 1986 - Harvard University Press.
The Concept of Mind.Gilbert Ryle - 1949 - Hutchinson & Co.
Elements of Episodic Memory.Endel Tulving - 1983 - Oxford University Press.
Doing Without Concepts.Edouard Machery - 2009 - Oxford University Press.

View all 48 references / Add more references

Citations of this work BETA

Aphantasia, SDAM, and Episodic Memory.Lajos Brons - 2019 - Annals of the Japan Association for Philosophy of Science 28:9-32.
Beyond the Causal Theory? Fifty Years After Martin and Deutscher.Kourken Michaelian & Sarah Robins - 2018 - In Kourken Michaelian, Dorothea Debus & Denis Perrin (eds.), New Directions in the Philosophy of Memory. Routledge. pp. 13-32.

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