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Graduate Research Assistant, Kansas State University


General and prior knowledge for an event influences how that event is perceived and remembered.

One way individuals make sense of events in the world around them is by chunking the incoming information into meaningful and discrete units. This process is called event segmentation (i.e., breaking up events into units) and the information that may be used to do this comes from the environment (e.g., motion, lines, color) and semantic knowledge (e.g., prior knowledge for an activity). For example, if you watch someone make breakfast, you can use the information from the environment (e.g., kitchen, frying pan) and your knowledge of making breakfast (e.g., frying pans are used for bacon and eggs) to inform you of what is happening throughout the course of the breakfast event.

My research focuses on how our previous knowledge and experiences with different activities, or events, influences how we perceive and later remember those activities or events. Additionally, I am interested in how segmentation and memory change through normal aging and what the relationships are to other important cognitive processes, such as working memory and inhibition. My recent projects include investigating the influences of context and perspective-taking on event segmentation and recall. Both projects have found differences in segmentation and memory, suggesting semantic knowledge is important for event understanding.

This research is important because older adults are worse at segmenting compared to younger adults; however, semantic knowledge is maintained, and even improved, as we age. Older adults may be able to use semantic knowledge to compensate, which could lead to better segmentation and memory for events. In the long run, segmentation training could be implemented to improve older adults' segmentation abilities, which may lead to improved daily functioning and longer independence.