Episodic memory is a neurocognitive (brain/mind) system, uniquely different from other memory systems, that enables human beings to remember past experiences. The notion of episodic memory was first proposed some 30 years ago. At that time it was defined in terms of materials and tasks. It was subsequently refined and elaborated in terms of ideas such as self, subjective time, and autonoetic consciousness. This chapter provides a brief history of the concept of episodic memory, describes how it has changed (indeed greatly changed) since its inception, considers criticisms of it, and then discusses supporting evidence provided by () neuropsychological studies of patterns of memory impairment caused by brain damage, and () functional neuroimaging studies of patterns of brain activity of normal subjects engaged in various memory tasks. I also suggest that episodic memory is a true, even if as yet generally unappreciated, marvel of nature.


Article metrics loading...

Loading full text...

Full text loading...


Literature Cited

  1. Aggleton JP, Brown MW. 1999. Episodic memory, amnesia and the hippocampal-anterior thalamic axis.. Behav. Brain Sci. 22:425–44 [Google Scholar]
  2. Andreasen NC, O'Leary DS, Arndt S, Cizadlo T, Hurtig R. et al. 1996. Neural substrates of facial recognition.. J. Neuropsychiatry Clin. Neurosci. 8:139–49 [Google Scholar]
  3. Baldwin JM. 1902. Development and Evolution. New York: Macmillan [Google Scholar]
  4. Buckner RL. 1996. Beyond HERA: contributions of specific prefrontal brain areas to long-term memory.. Psychonom. Bull. Rev. 3:149–58 [Google Scholar]
  5. Buckner RL, Koutstaal W, Schacter DL, Dale AM, Rotte M, Rosen BR. 1998. Functional anatomic study of episodic memory retrieval II. Selective averaging of event-related FMRI trials to test the retrieval success hypothesis.. NeuroImage 7:163–75 [Google Scholar]
  6. Buckner RL, Petersen SE, Ojemann JG, Miezin FM, Squire LR, Raichle ME. 1995. Functional anatomical studies of explicit and implicit memory retrieval tasks.. J. Neurosci. 15:12–29 [Google Scholar]
  7. Buckner RL, Raichle ME, Miezin FM, Petersen SE. 1996. Functional anatomical studies of memory retrieval for auditory words and visual pictures.. J. Neurosci. 16:6219–35 [Google Scholar]
  8. Buckner RL, Tulving E. 1995. Neuroimaging studies of memory: theory and recent PET results. In Handbook of Neuropsychology, ed. F Boller, J Grafman 10439–66 Amsterdam: Elsevier [Google Scholar]
  9. Cabeza R, Nyberg L. 2000. Imaging cognition.. II. An empirical review of 275 PET and FMRI studies J. Cogn. Neurosci. 12:1–47 [Google Scholar]
  10. Calabrese P, Markowitsch HJ, Durwen HF, Widlitzek H, Haupts M. et al. 1996. Right temporofrontal cortex as critical locus for the ecphory of old episodic memories.. J. Neurol. Neurosurg. Psychiatry 61 (3):304–10 [Google Scholar]
  11. Cermak LS, O'Connor M. 1983. The anterograde and retrograde retrieval ability of a patient with amnesia due to encephalitis.. Neuropsychologia 21:213–34 [Google Scholar]
  12. Clayton NS, Dickinson A. 1998. Episodic-like memory during cache recovery by scrub jays.. Nature 395:272–74 [Google Scholar]
  13. Cohen NJ. 1984. Preserved learning capacity in amnesia: evidence for multiple memory systems. In Neuropsychology of Memory, ed. LR Squire, N Butters 83–103 New York: Guilford [Google Scholar]
  14. Craik FIM. 2001. Human memory and ageing.. Proceedings of the 27th International Congress of Psychology, Stockholm, August 2000. In press
  15. DellaSala S, Laiacona M, Spinnler H, Trivelli C. 1993. Autobiographical recollection and frontal damage.. Neuropsychologia 31 (8):823–39 [Google Scholar]
  16. Desgranges B, Baron JC, Eustache F. 1998. The functional neuroanatomy of episodic memory: the role of the frontal lobes, the hippocampal formation, and other areas.. NeuroImage 8:198–213 [Google Scholar]
  17. Fletcher PC, Dolan RJ, Frith CD. 1995. The functional anatomy of memory.. Experientia 51:1197–207 [Google Scholar]
  18. Fletcher PC, Frith CD, Rugg MD. 1997. The functional neuroanatomy of episodic memory.. Trends Neurosci. 20:213–18 [Google Scholar]
  19. Foster JK, Jelicic M. eds 1999. Memory: Systems, Process, or Function? Oxford: Oxford Univ. Press [Google Scholar]
  20. Gardiner JM. 1988. Functional aspects of recollective experience.. Mem. Cogn. 16:309–13 [Google Scholar]
  21. Gardiner JM, Richardson-Klavehn A. 2000. Remembering and knowing.. See Tulving & Craik 2000 229–44
  22. Glenberg AM. 1997. What memory is for.. Behav. Brain Sci. 20:1–55 [Google Scholar]
  23. Gorfein DS. 1987. Functional dissociation: comments on the chapter by Roediger and Blaxton.. See Gorfein & Hoffman 1987 381–83
  24. Gorfein DS, Hoffman RR. eds 1987. Memory and Learning: The Ebbinghaus Centennial Conference. Hillsdale, NJ: Erlbaum [Google Scholar]
  25. Griffiths DP, Dickinson A, Clayton NS. 1999. Declarative and episodic memory: What can animals remember about their past?. Trends Cogn. Sci. 3(2):74–80 [Google Scholar]
  26. Hamann SB, Squire LR. 1995. On the acquisition of new declarative knowledge in amnesia.. Behav. Neurosci. 109:1027–44 [Google Scholar]
  27. Haxby JV, Ungerleider LG, Horwitz B, Maisog JM, Rapoport SL, Grady CL. 1996. Face encoding and recognition in the human brain.. Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. USA 93:922–27 [Google Scholar]
  28. Hayman CAG, Macdonald CA, Tulving E. 1993. The role of repetition and associative interference in new semantic learning in amnesia.. J. Cogn. Neurosci. 5:375–89 [Google Scholar]
  29. Hintzman DL. 1984. Episodic versus semantic memory: a distinction whose time has come—and gone?. Behav. Brain Sci. 7:240–41 [Google Scholar]
  30. Hintzman DL. 2000. Memory judgements.. See Tulving & Craik 2000 165–77
  31. Horner MD. 1990. Psychobiological evidence for the distinction between episodic and semantic memory.. Neuropsychol. Rev. 1:281–321 [Google Scholar]
  32. Howe ML. 2000. The Fate of Early Memories. Washington, DC: Am. Psychol. Assoc [Google Scholar]
  33. Jacoby LL. 1991. A process dissociation framework: separating automatic from intentional uses of memory.. J. Mem. Lang. 30:513–41 [Google Scholar]
  34. Kapur N. 1999. Syndromes of retrograde amnesia: a conceptual and empirical analysis.. Psychol. Bull. 125:800–25 [Google Scholar]
  35. Kapur S, Craik FIM, Jones C, Brown GM, Houle S, Tulving E. 1995. Functional role of the prefrontal cortex in retrieval of memories: a PET study.. NeuroReport 6:1880–84 [Google Scholar]
  36. Kapur S, Craik FIM, Tulving E, Wilson AA, Houle S, Brown GM. 1994. Neuroanatomical correlates of encoding in episodic memory: levels of processing effect.. Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. USA 91:2008–11 [Google Scholar]
  37. Kelley WM, Miezin FM, McDermott KB, Buckner RL, Raichle ME. et al. 1998. Hemispheric specialization in human dorsal frontal cortex and medial temporal lobe for verbal and nonverbal memory encoding.. Neuron 20:927–36 [Google Scholar]
  38. Kihlstrom JF. 1984. A fact is a fact is a fact.. Behav. Brain Sci. 7:243–44 [Google Scholar]
  39. Kitchener EG, Hodges JR, McCarthy R. 1998. Acquisition of post-morbid vocabulary and semantic facts in the absence of episodic memory.. Brain 121:1313–27 [Google Scholar]
  40. Knowlton BJ, Squire LR. 1995. Remembering and knowing: two different expressions of declarative memory.. J. Exp. Psychol.: Learn. Mem. Cogn. 21:699–710 [Google Scholar]
  41. Köhler S, Moscovitch M, Winocur G, Houle S, McIntosh AR. 1998. Networks of domain-specific and general regions involved in episodic memory for spatial location and object identity.. Neuropsychologia 36:129–42 [Google Scholar]
  42. Kopelman MD, Stanhope N, Kingsley D. 1999. Retrograde amnesia in patients with diencephalic, temporal lobe, or frontal lesions.. Neuropsychologia 37:939–58 [Google Scholar]
  43. Lepage M, Ghaffar O, Nyberg L, Tulving E. 2000. Prefrontal cortex and episodic memory retrieval mode.. Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. USA 97:506–11 [Google Scholar]
  44. Levine B, Black SE, Cabeza R, Sinden M, McIntosh AR. et al. 1998. Episodic memory and the self in a case of isolated retrograde amnesia.. Brain 121:1951–73 [Google Scholar]
  45. Markowitsch HJ, Calabrese P, Liess J, Haupts M, Durwen HF, Gehlen W. 1993. Retrograde amnesia after traumatic injury of the frontotemporal cortex.. J. Neurol. Neurosurg. Psychiatry 56 (9):988–92 [Google Scholar]
  46. McClelland JL, McNaughton BL, O'Reilly RC. 1995. Why there are complementary learning systems in the hippocampus and neocortex: insights from the successes and failures of connectionist models of learning and memory.. Psychol. Rev. 102:419–57 [Google Scholar]
  47. McCormack T, Hoerl C. 1999. Memory and temporal perspective: the role of temporal frameworks in memory development.. Dev. Rev. 19:154–82 [Google Scholar]
  48. McIntosh AR. 1999. Mapping cognition to the brain through neural interaction.. Memory 7:523–48 [Google Scholar]
  49. Mesulam MM. 1990. Large-scale neurocognitive networks and distributed processing for attention, language, and memory.. Ann. Neurol. 28:597–613 [Google Scholar]
  50. Mishkin M, Suzuki WA, Gadian DG, Vargha-Khadem F. 1997. Hierarchical organization of cognitive memory.. Philos. Trans. R. Soc. London B 352:1461–67 [Google Scholar]
  51. Moscovitch M, Kapur S, Köhler S, Houle S. 1995. Distinct neural correlates of visual long-term memory for spatial location and object identity: a positron emission tomography (PET) study in humans.. Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. USA 92:3721–25 [Google Scholar]
  52. Nelson K. 1993. The psychological and social origins of autobiographical memory.. Psychol. Sci. 4:7–14 [Google Scholar]
  53. Nielsen JM. 1958. Memory and Amnesia. Los Angeles: San Lucas [Google Scholar]
  54. Nyberg L. 1998. Mapping episodic memory.. Behav. Brain Res. 90:107–14 [Google Scholar]
  55. Nyberg L, Cabeza R, Tulving E. 1996a. PET studies of encoding and retrieval: the HERA model.. Psychonom. Bull. Rev. 3:135–48 [Google Scholar]
  56. Nyberg L, Habib R, Tulving E, Cabeza R, Houle S. et al. 2000. Large scale neurocognitive networks underlying episodic memory.. J. Cogn. Neurosci. 12:163–73 [Google Scholar]
  57. Nyberg L, McIntosh AR, Cabeza R, Habib R, Tulving E. 1996b). General and specific brain regions involved in encoding and retrieval of events: what, where, and when.. Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. USA 93:11280–11285 [Google Scholar]
  58. Nyberg L, Tulving E, Habib R, Nilsson L-G, Kapur S. et al. 1995. Functional brain maps of retrieval mode and recovery of episodic information.. NeuroReport 7:249–52 [Google Scholar]
  59. Perner J, Ruffman T. 1995. Episodic memory and autonoetic consciousness: developmental evidence and a theory of childhood amnesia.. J. Exp. Child Psychol. 59:516–48 [Google Scholar]
  60. Raichle ME. 1994. Images of the mind: studies with modern imaging techniques.. Annu. Rev. Psychol. 45:333–56 [Google Scholar]
  61. Rajaram S. 1993. Remembering and knowing: two means of access to the personal past.. Mem. Cogn. 21:89–102 [Google Scholar]
  62. Rajaram S, Coslett HB. 2000. New conceptual associative learning in amnesia.. Mem. Lang. 43:291–315 [Google Scholar]
  63. Ratcliff R, McKoon G. 1986. More on the distinction between episodic and semantic memories.. J. Exp. Psychol.: Learn. Mem. Cogn. 12:312–13 [Google Scholar]
  64. Richards RJ. 1987. Darwin and the Emergence of Evolutionary Theories of Mind and Behavior. Chicago: Univ. Chicago Press [Google Scholar]
  65. Roediger HL III, Blaxton TA. 1987. Retrieval modes produce dissociations in memory for surface information.. See Gorfein & Hoffman 1987 349–79
  66. Roediger HL III, McDermott KB. 1993. Implicit memory in normal human subjects. In Handbook of Neuropsychology, ed. H Spinnler, F Boller 63–131 Amsterdam: Elsevier [Google Scholar]
  67. Roediger HL III, Weldon MS, Challis BH. 1989. Explaining dissociations between implicit and explicit measures of retention: a processing account. In Varieties of Memory and Consciousness: Essays in Honour of Endel Tulving, ed. HL Roediger III, FIM Craik 3–42 Hillsdale, NJ: Erlbaum [Google Scholar]
  68. Rosenbaum RS, Priselac S, Köhler S, Black S, Gao F. et al. 2000. Remote spatial memory in an amnesic person with extensive hippocampal lesions.. Nat. Neurosci. 3:1044–48 [Google Scholar]
  69. Rousseaux M, Godfrey O, Cabaret M, Bernati T, Pruvo JP. 1997. Retrograde memory after rupture of aneurysms of the anterior communicating artery.. Rev. Neurolog. 153 (11):659–68 [Google Scholar]
  70. Rugg MD, Fletcher PC, Frith CD, Frackowiak RS, Dolan RJ. 1997. Brain regions supporting intentional and incidental memory: a PET study.. NeuroReport 8:1283–87 [Google Scholar]
  71. Schacter DL. 1987a. Implicit memory: history and current status.. J. Exp. Psychol.: Learn. Mem. Cogn. 13:501–18 [Google Scholar]
  72. Schacter DL. 1987b. Memory, amnesia, and frontal lobe dysfunction.. Psychobiology 15:21–36 [Google Scholar]
  73. Schacter DL, Alpert NM, Savage CR, Rauch SL. 1996. Conscious recollection and the human hippocampal formation: evidence from positron emission tomography.. Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. USA 93:321–25 [Google Scholar]
  74. Schacter DL, Harbluk J, McLachlan D. 1984. Retrieval without recollection: an experimental analysis of source amnesia.. J. Verb. Learn. Verb. Behav. 23:593–611 [Google Scholar]
  75. Schacter DL, Tulving E. 1994. What are the memory systems of 1994? In Memory Systems, ed. DL Schacter, E Tulving 1–38 Cambridge, MA: MIT Press [Google Scholar]
  76. Schacter DL, Wagner AD, Buckner R. 2000. Memory systems of 1999.. See Tulving & Craik 2000 627–43
  77. Scoville WB, Milner B. 1957. Loss of recent memory after bilateral hippocampal lesions.. J. Neurol. Neurosurg. Psychiatry 20:11–21 [Google Scholar]
  78. Shallice T, Fletcher P, Frith CD, Grasby P, Frackowiak RSJ, Dolan RJ. 1994. Brain regions associated with acquisition and retrieval of verbal episodic memory.. Nature 368:633–35 [Google Scholar]
  79. Sherry DF, Schacter DL. 1987. The evolution of multiple memory systems.. Psychol. Rev. 94:439–54 [Google Scholar]
  80. Shimamura AP, Squire LR. 1987. A neuropsychological study of fact memory and source amnesia.. J. Exp. Psychol.: Learn. Mem. Cogn. 13:464–73 [Google Scholar]
  81. Squire LR. 1987. Memory and Brain. New York: Oxford Univ. Press [Google Scholar]
  82. Squire LR. 1992. Memory and the hippocampus: a synthesis from findings with rats, monkeys, and humans.. Psychol. Rev. 99:195–231 [Google Scholar]
  83. Squire LR, Ojemann JG, Miezin FM, Petersen SE, Videen TO, Raichle ME. 1992. Activation of the hippocampus in normal humans: a functional anatomical study of memory.. Proc. Nat. Sci. USA 89:1837–41 [Google Scholar]
  84. Squire LR, Zola S. 1998. Episodic memory, semantic memory, and amnesia.. Hippocampus 8:205–11 [Google Scholar]
  85. Suddendorf T, Corballis MC. 1997. Mental time travel and the evolution of the human mind.. Genet. Soc. Gen. Psychol. Monogr. 123:133–67 [Google Scholar]
  86. Toth JP. 2000. Nonconscious forms of memory.. See Tulving & Craik 2000 245–61
  87. Toth JP, Hunt RR. 1999. Not one versus many, but zero versus any: structure and function in the context of the multiple memory systems debate.. See Foster & Jelicic 1999 232–72
  88. Tulving E. 1972. Episodic and semantic memory. In Organization of Memory, ed. E Tulving, W Donaldson 381–403 New York: Academic [Google Scholar]
  89. Tulving E. 1983. Elements of Episodic Memory. Oxford: Clarendon [Google Scholar]
  90. Tulving E. 1984. Relations among components and processes of memory.. Behav. Brain Sci. 7:257–68 [Google Scholar]
  91. Tulving E. 1985a. How many memory systems are there?. Am. Psychol. 40:385–98 [Google Scholar]
  92. Tulving E. 1985b. Memory and consciousness.. Can. Psychol. 26:1–12 [Google Scholar]
  93. Tulving E. 1986. What kind of a hypothesis is the distinction between episodic and semantic memory?. J. Exp. Psychol. Learn. Mem. Cogn. 12:307–11 [Google Scholar]
  94. Tulving E. 1989. Memory: performance, knowledge, and experience.. Eur. J. Cogn. Psychol. 1:3–26 [Google Scholar]
  95. Tulving E. 1991. Concepts of human memory. In Memory: Organization and Locus of Change, ed. L Squire, G Lynch, NM Weinberger, JL McGaugh 3–32 New York: Oxford Univ. Press [Google Scholar]
  96. Tulving E. 1995. Organization of memory: Quo vadis? In The Cognitive Neurosciences, ed. MS Gazzaniga 839–47 Cambridge, MA: MIT Press [Google Scholar]
  97. Tulving E. 1999. On the uniqueness of episodic memory. In Cognitive Neuroscience of Memory, ed. L-G Nilsson, HJ Markowitsch 11–42 Göttingen: Hogrefe & Huber [Google Scholar]
  98. Tulving E. 2001a. The origin of autonoesis in episodic memory. In The Nature of Remembering: Essays in Honor of Robert G. Crowder, ed. HL Roediger, JS Nairne, I Neath, AM Suprenant 17–34 Washington, DC: Am. Psychol. Assoc [Google Scholar]
  99. Tulving E. 2001b. Chronesthesia: awareness of subjective time.. In The Age of the Frontal Lobes, ed. DT Stuss, RC Knight. In press
  100. Tulving E, Craik FIM. eds 2000. The Oxford Handbook of Memory. New York: Oxford Univ. Press [Google Scholar]
  101. Tulving E, Hayman CAG, Macdonald CA. 1991. Long-lasting perceptual priming and semantic learning in amnesia: a case experiment.. J. Exp. Psychol.: Learn. Mem. Cogn. 17:595–617 [Google Scholar]
  102. Tulving E, Kapur S, Craik FIM, Moscovitch M, Houle S. 1994a. Hemispheric encoding/retrieval asymmetry in episodic memory: positron emission tomography findings.. Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. USA 91:2016–20 [Google Scholar]
  103. Tulving E, Kapur S, Markowitsch HJ, Craik FIM, Habib R, Houle S. 1994b. Neuroanatomical correlates of retrieval in episodic memory: auditory sentence recognition.. Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. USA 91:2012–15 [Google Scholar]
  104. Tulving E, Markowitsch HJ. 1998. Episodic and declarative memory: role of the hippocampus.. Hippocampus 8:198–204 [Google Scholar]
  105. Tulving E, Schacter DL, McLachlan DR, Moscovitch M. 1988. Priming of semantic autobiographical knowledge: a case study of retrograde amnesia.. Brain Cogn. 8:3–20 [Google Scholar]
  106. Vargha-Khadem F, Gadian DG, Watkins KE, Connelly A, Van Paesschen W, Mishkin M. 1997. Differential effects of early hippocampal pathology on episodic and semantic memory.. Science 277:376–80 [Google Scholar]
  107. Viskontas IV, McAndrews MP, Moscovitch M. 2000. Remote episodic memory deficits in patients with unilateral temporal lobe epilepsy and excisions.. J. Neurosci. 20:5853–57 [Google Scholar]
  108. Wagner AD, Desmond JE, Glover G, Gabrieli JDE. 1998a. Prefrontal cortex and recognition memory: FMRI evidence for context-dependent retrieval processes.. Brain 121:1985–2002 [Google Scholar]
  109. Wagner AD, Poldrack RA, Eldridge LL, Desmond JE, Glover G, Gabrieli JDE. 1998b. Material-specific lateralization of prefrontal activation during episodic encoding and retrieval.. NeuroReport 9:3711–17 [Google Scholar]
  110. Weiskrantz L. ed 1985. Animal intelligence.. Proceedings of a Royal Society Discussion Meeting. Oxford, UK: Clarendon
  111. Weldon MS. 1999. The memory chop shop: issues in the search for memory systems.. See Foster & Jelicic 1999 162–204
  112. Wheeler MA, Stuss DT, Tulving E. 1997. Toward a theory of episodic memory: the frontal lobes and autonoetic consciousness.. Psychol. Bull. 121:331–54 [Google Scholar]
  113. Wheeler MA, McMillan CT. 2001. Focal retrograde amnesia and the episodic-semantic distinction.. Cogn. Affect. Behav. Neurosci. 1:22–37 [Google Scholar]

Data & Media loading...

  • Article Type: Review Article
This is a required field
Please enter a valid email address
Approval was a Success
Invalid data
An Error Occurred
Approval was partially successful, following selected items could not be processed due to error