Call for Papers: Rethinking the Distinction between Episodic and Semantic Memory

Submission Deadline: November 1, 2020

Felipe De Brigard, Duke University, USA
Sharda Umanath, Claremont McKenna College, USA
Muireann Irish, University of Sydney, Australia

Traditionally, episodic and semantic memory have been considered as two independent cognitive systems. Tulving suggested that episodic and semantic memories are governed by a set of distinct principles including mode of references (autobiographical vs. cognitive) and retrieval characteristics (remembering vs. knowing). The functional distinction between episodic and semantic memory gained wide acceptance and has influenced a variety of fields of research. Tulving’s powerful framework guided understanding of age-related decline in memory, memory distortion, categorization, event segmentation, and even language processing. However, in the past two decades, numerous findings have put in doubt the clear-cut nature of this distinction. In fact, a number of recent developments in the science of memory, both empirical and theoretical, strongly suggest that, contrary to the traditional view, episodic and semantic memory may not be as distinct as once thought. 

The picture that has emerged since the formalization of the episodic and semantic distinction is that memories do not fall neatly or independently into one system. Event memories are composed of what Tulving would conceptualize as semantic and episodic. Older adults who demonstrate what has been characterized as age-related deficits in episodic memory are able to moderate observed deficits by relying on semantic components to scaffold recollection. The interactions between semantic and episodic memory are so entrenched and nuanced that it may no longer make sense to distinguish them, and to favor instead a different understanding of the processes involved in the tasks that traditionally were considered either episodic or semantic.

The purpose of this Special Issue of Memory & Cognition is to bring together researchers doing cutting-edge work at the intersection between episodic and semantic memory, not only to showcase studies directly probing this psychological distinction, but also articles that seek to provide conceptual and theoretical accounts that can help us to understand the precise relationship between these two apparently different kinds of memory. Of note, this Special Issue for Memory & Cognition will highlight important new behavioral findings that can help to illuminate the relationship between semantic and episodic memory. 

As such, the editors of this Special Issue, and the journal, Memory & Cognition, welcome contributions that highlight not only behavioral but also modeling strategies to better understand the interdependence of episodic and semantic memory. Additionally, we seek contributions from authors working at the intersection between memory and other areas of research that could inform the E/S distinction, such as language, category learning, and perception. The goal will be to present a collection of articles that would not only systematize cutting-edge research but also help to establish a new foundation upon which to rethink a distinction that, to this day, is central for our understanding of declarative memory.

Submission Deadline
The deadline for submissions is November 1, 2020. Submission guidelines are here. Authors should select the Special Issue/Invited Manuscript type when submitting papers.

Please email the co-editors with questions:
Felipe De Brigard, Duke University, USA
Sharda Umanath, Claremont McKenna College, USA
Muireann Irish, University of Sydney, Australia