Date of Award

Summer 8-23-2022

Author's School

Graduate School of Arts and Sciences

Author's Department


Degree Name

Master of Arts (AM/MA)

Degree Type



Temporal information has been identified as a powerful influence on memory retrieval. Much of this arise from studies that tend to focus on associations between items. In contrast, real-life experiences consist of discrete events that encompass more than mere associations. While events can be remembered based on temporal proximity, events that are farther apart in time can also be linked together by forming a coherent narrative. Given that daily experiences are multifaceted, it is unclear to what extent prior work generalizes to real-world memories. Here, we sought to determine the influence of temporal features and narrative coherence on memory for lifelike events. Across two experiments, participants listened to a story and later completed recall and temporal judgment tasks. The story consisted of temporally-distant events that could either be meaningfully integrated (i.e., Coherent Narratives), or are depicted in separate, unrelated narratives (i.e., Unrelated Narratives). Each paired event either appeared relatively close together (i.e., Short Lags) or far apart (i.e., Long Lags) in the story. While Coherent Narratives were recalled in greater detail than Unrelated Narratives, conditions of temporal lag did not influence recall performance. Memory performance on temporal judgment tasks, on the other hand, was largely driven by temporal lag and was not affected by narrative coherence. These findings suggest that while time is an integral part of episodic memory, memories for dynamic, lifelike experiences are more anchored to high-level elements such as narrative coherence.


English (en)

Chair and Committee

Jeffrey M. Zacks

Committee Members

Zachariah M. Reagh, Jeffrey M. Zacks, Ian Dobbins