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Thesis defence : Méline DEVALUEZ

Thesis defence

On 20 March 2023

The role of memory in metacognition : Use of episodic and semantic information

Part of the field of memory metacognition has been shaped by the episodic/semantic distinction proposed by Tulving (1972). For example, experimental and neuropsychological evidence suggests that distinct processes are involved in metacognition tasks involving semantic memory and episodic memory. Moreover, the relationship between memory performance and metacognitive judgments is a central debate in the literature. Nevertheless, in parallel to this episodic/semantic distinction, many studies suggest that semantic memory and episodic memory do not function completely independently, especially in healthy subjects. In particular, several studies show the importance and influence of semantic processing in the encoding and retrieval of episodic memories, but also in one’s ability to self-assess their performance on episodic memory tasks. Thus, the aim of this thesis was to investigate further the relationship between memory processes and metacognitive judgments. Two aspects of this relationship were addressed. First, we were interested in the specific relationship between the type of memory involved in the first-order task (i.e., episodic or semantic) and metacognitive performance (Chapters 4 and 5). A second objective was to better understand the influence of semantic processing on metacognitive judgments (Chapters 5, 6, and 7).First, we conducted two meta-analyses on the distinction between episodic and semantic feeling-of-knowing (eFOK and sFOK) in healthy aging. These meta-analyses provided additional evidence for the contribution of episodic memory decline to the decrease in metacognitive sensitivity of eFOK in this population. Secondly, we assessed episodic and semantic metacognitive abilities of individuals with semantic memory impairment: semantic dementia patients. Their performance was compared to that of healthy older adults and to Alzheimer's disease patients. This study did not reveal any particular metacognitive deficit in this population, nor double dissociation between type of first-order deficit and metacognitive performance.Then, 4 studies showed the importance of semantic processing to accurately predict performance on an episodic memory recognition task. Finally, 2 other studies conducted on the manipulation of conceptual fluency showed the influence of semantic processing of images on retrospective and predictive metacognitive judgments of episodic memory. The results of this thesis show that memory processes are involved in metacognitive judgments. In particular, we highlight the importance of episodic memory retrieval, familiarity, and the influence of conceptual knowledge. Moreover, these types of information are not always specific to the type of memory tested on the first-order task since semantic memory is also involved in episodic metacognition tasks.

Sous la direction de Céline Souchay et de Christopher Moulin.

Le président du jury était Marie Izaute.Le jury était composé de Céline Souchay, Christine Bastin, Marcela Perrone-Bertolotti, Matthias Kliegel. Les rapporteurs étaient Marie Izaute, Louis Renoult.

Keywords: Metacognition, Episodic memory, Semantic memory, Semantic dementia

Read the thesis



On 20 March 2023



01/10/2020 - 31/03/2023


Submitted on 20 November 2023

Updated on 20 November 2023