Insights from semantic dementia on the relationship between episodic and semantic memory

Graham, K.S., Simons, J.S., Pratt, K.H., Patterson, K., & Hodges, J.R. (2000). Neuropsychologia, 38, 313-324.

An influential theory of long-term memory, in which new episodic learning is dependent upon the integrity of semantic memory (Tulving, 1972; 1983), predicts that a double dissociation between episodic and semantic memory is not possible in new learning (Tulving, 1995; Tulving & Markowitsch, 1998). Contrary to this view, we found, in two separate experiments, that patients with impaired semantic memory showed relatively preserved performance on tests of recognition memory if the stimuli were perceptually identical between learning and test. A significant effect of semantic memory was only seen when a perceptual manipulation was introduced in the episodic task. To account for these findings, we propose a revision to current models of long-term memory, in which sensory/perceptual information and semantic memory work in concert to support new learning.