The language used in describing autobiographical memories prompted by life period visually presented verbal cues, event-specific visually presented verbal cues and short musical clips of popular music
Here, we examined linguistic differences in the reports of memories produced by three cueing methods. Two groups of young adults were cued visually either by words representing events or popular cultural phenomena that took place when they were 5, 10, or 16 years of age, or by words referencing a general lifetime period word cue directing them to that period in their life. A third group heard 30-second long musical clips of songs popular during the same three time periods. In each condition, participants typed a specific event memory evoked by the cue and these typed memories were subjected to analysis by the Linguistic Inquiry and Word Count (LIWC) program. Differences in the reports produced indicated that listening to music evoked memories embodied in motor-perceptual systems more so than memories evoked by our word-cueing conditions. Additionally, relative to music cues, lifetime period word cues produced memories with reliably more uses of personal pronouns, past tense terms, and negative emotions. The findings provide evidence for the embodiment of autobiographical memories, and how those differ when the cues emphasise different aspects of the encoded events.
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