Show Summary Details

Page of

PRINTED FROM OXFORD HANDBOOKS ONLINE ( © Oxford University Press, 2018. All Rights Reserved. Under the terms of the licence agreement, an individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a title in Oxford Handbooks Online for personal use (for details see Privacy Policy and Legal Notice).

date: 16 April 2021

Abstract and Keywords

Episodic memory in humans is the recall of a specific event in the past, which the rememberer has the sense of having personally experienced. Semantic memory is knowledge of the past without the accompanying phenomenological experience. Most life events are remembered episodically for a short time, but some memories are retained episodically long term. The episodic memory system and personal future planning are closely related, and we refer to this as the episodic cognitive system. Key uses of episodic memory are in maintaining a sense of self-continuity, successful social interaction, and using information from past events to direct future behavior. Most, but not all, researchers believe that the episodic cognitive system emerged later in evolution than the semantic cognitive system. There is some evidence that some mammals and birds have some aspects of episodic memory and future thinking, but much more data is needed and on a greater variety of species. It is possible that animals have “event memory,” an evolutionary forerunner of human episodic cognitive abilities that allow them to act on specific past events and take actions for the future but that do not necessarily comprise the experience of mental time travel or of autonoesis.

Keywords: Episodic memory, Future planning, Semantic memory, Event memory, Mental time travel, Autonoesis

Access to the complete content on Oxford Handbooks Online requires a subscription or purchase. Public users are able to search the site and view the abstracts and keywords for each book and chapter without a subscription.

Please subscribe or login to access full text content.

If you have purchased a print title that contains an access token, please see the token for information about how to register your code.

For questions on access or troubleshooting, please check our FAQs, and if you can''t find the answer there, please contact us.