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Distinctiveness and Memory$
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R. Reed Hunt and James B. Worthen

Print publication date: 2006

Print ISBN-13: 9780195169669

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: March 2012

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195169669.001.0001

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Neural Correlates of Incongruity

Neural Correlates of Incongruity

Chapter:
(p.361) 16 Neural Correlates of Incongruity
Source:
Distinctiveness and Memory
Author(s):

Pascale Michelon

Abraham Z. Snyder

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195169669.003.0016

Most of the objects in our environment are familiar and expected in a given situation. A mnemonic advantage can be attributed to the distinctiveness of perceived events. Two types of distinctiveness can be distinguished: primary and secondary distinctiveness. Primary distinctiveness is due to item contrast with respect to the surroundings. The likelihood that an item will be remembered increases as the number of properties shared with its contextual neighbors decreases. Secondary distinctiveness is generated by violation of expectations about the world. Multiple behavioral studies have shown a memory advantage for incongruous versus ordinary material. This result is commonly known as the bizarreness effect. This chapter deals with secondary distinctiveness, which underlies the subjective percept of bizarreness or incongruity. The neural correlates of the encoding of incongruous information are explored in an attempt to understand why it is better remembered. Three interpretations of the bizarreness effect are considered: the attentional or processing-time hypothesis, the distinctiveness hypothesis, and the surprise or expectation violation hypothesis.

Keywords:   primary distinctiveness, secondary distinctiveness, neural correlates, bizarreness, incongruity, incongruous information, memory, processing time, surprise, expectation violation

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