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A model-based analysis of changes in the semantic structure of free recall due to cognitive impairment

Holly Westfall
University of California, Irvine ~ Cognitive Sciences
Michael Lee
University of California, Irvine ~ Cognitive Sciences

Alzheimer’s disease leads to a decline in both episodic and semantic memory. Free recall tasks are commonly used in assessments designed to diagnose and monitor cognitive impairment, but tend to focus on episodic memory. Our goal is to understand the influence of semantic memory on the sequence of free recall in a clinical data set. We develop a cognitive process model that allows for the influence of semantic similarity and other stimulus properties on the order of free recall. The model also incorporates a decision process based on the Luce choice rule, allowing for different levels of response determinism. We apply the model to a real-world data set including free recall data from 2392 Alzheimer’s patients and their caregivers. We find that semantic similarity between items strongly influences the order of free recall, regardless of impairment. We also observe a trend for response determinism to decrease as impairment increases.



semantic memory
episodic memory
free recall
odd-one-out task
Alzheimer's disease
connect recall order to recall accuracy Last updated 3 years ago

Interesting talk, Holly! I am wondering if the effect of semantic structure in recall order accompanies changes in recall performance.

Qiong Zhang 0 comments
Posteriors and Bayes factors Last updated 3 years ago

Hi Holly, Very cool modelling and interesting results. From looking at the results (i.e., the posteriors) it looks as if there could also be a difference in the similarity parameter, especially for the last two FAST stages compared to earlier stages. So from just looking at the posterior, I do not find the conclusion that it is mainly driven...

Dr. Henrik Singmann 1 comment
Cite this as:

Westfall, H. A., & Lee, M. (2021, July). A model-based analysis of changes in the semantic structure of free recall due to cognitive impairment. Paper presented at Virtual MathPsych/ICCM 2021. Via