Jeff Zacks: Constructing events - From childhood to old age, from basic mechanisms to improving memory
Jeff Zacks: Constructing events: From childhood to old age, from basic mechanisms to improving memory
Everyday activity is continuous, dynamic, and high bandwidth—yet we seem to have the subjective experience of a modest number of meaningful events that stand in structured relations to each other. In this talk, I will describe a theory that relates the subjective experience of events to computational mechanisms of prediction error monitoring and memory updating. Briefly, Event Segmentation Theory proposes that perceivers maintain a working memory representation of the current event and use it to guide predictions about what will happen in the near future. When prediction error spikes, they update their model. Data from individual differences, neuropsychology, and neuroimaging suggest that this mechanism is functionally significant for memory and that it can be impaired by neurological injury or disease. New results indicate that it is possible to improve the encoding of event structure and that this may improve subsequent memory. Such results have implications for technology design and for the remediation of memory disorders in conditions including healthy aging, Alzheimer’s disease, and post-traumatic stress disorder.