Research Interests

SenseCam Technology to Aid Everyday Memory

Can new technology aid people with memory impairments? This research, done at Wesleyan and the Olin Neuropsychiatry Research Center in Hartford, uses a memory camera, called SenseCam, with unimpaired people and individuals diagnosed with mild cognitive impairment or mild to moderate Alzheimer’s disease. Our goal is to understand how the camera aids memory, while improving everyday cognitive functioning in people, especially those with memory problems.

Seamon, J. G., et al. (2014). SenseCam reminiscence and action recall in memory-unimpaired people. Memory, 22, 861-866.

Media coverage of this research in The Hartford Courant (April 8, 2013).

Adaptive Memory and Stories

Memory is a valuable evolutionary adaptation that enables us to remember the past – well enough to survive as a species – but its real power may lie in allowing us to use that information to think about the future. Thinking about new experiences in terms of their future use and survival value can lead to effective long-term retention. We examined this idea in memory for stories.

Seamon, J. G., et al. (2012). Can survival processing enhance story memory?: Testing the generalizability of adaptive memory. Journal of Experimental Psychology: Learning, Memory, and Cognition, 38, 1045-1056. pdf


Exceptional Memorizers

Since Herman Ebbinghaus first studied memory scientifically in 1885, psychologists have thoroughly examined how many words, pictures, and stories people are able to remember. We tested a man who memorized all 10,565 lines of Milton’s epic poem, Paradise Lost. This work demonstrates the flexibility of our memory and what can be accomplished with enormous dedication and practice.

Seamon, J. G., Punjabi, P. V., & Busch, E. A. (2010). Memorizing Milton’s Paradise Lost: A study of a septuagenarian exceptional memorizer. Memory, 18, 498-503. pdf

Media coverage of this research in The Hartford Courant (May 17, 2010), Mind Hacks (May 4, 2010), The AARP Bulletin (July/August, 2010), The Chronicle of Higher Education (July 21, 2010), Connecticut Magazine (December, 2010), and The New Scientist (2011).


Memory Illusions and False Memory

Computers retain vast amounts of information perfectly and indefinitely; human memory never evolved in this fashion. Our memory is subject to various errors, biases, and distortions that can occur without our awareness – including vivid recollections of past events that never occurred. This research explored the constructive aspect of remembering by examining conditions that can yield false memories about the past.

Seamon, J. G., et al. (2009). Did we see someone shake hands with a fire hydrant?: Social reminiscence affects false recollections from a campus walk. American Journal of Psychology, 122, 235-247. pdf

Seamon, J. G., Philbin, M. M., & Harrison, L. G. (2006). Do you remember proposing marriage to the Pepsi machine? False recollections from a campus walk.  Psychonomic Bulletin & Review, 13, 752-756. pdf

Seamon, J. G., Luo, C. R., Gallo, D. A. (1998) Creating false memories of words with or without list item recognition: Evidence for nonconscious processes. Psychological Science, 9, 20-26. pdf


Implicit (Nonconscious) Memory for Objects

Behavior can be explicitly or implicitly influenced by past experience. Explicit memory is shown by the conscious recollection of an experience; implicit memory is demonstrated when an experience influences behavior without conscious awareness. Mere exposure to novel objects can lead to recognition (explicit memory) or an increase in liking for those stimuli without recognition (implicit memory).

Seamon, J. G., & Delgado, M. R. (1999). Recognition memory and affective preference for depth-rotated solid objects: Part-based structural descriptions may underlie the mere exposure effect. Visual Cognition, 6, 145-164. 

Seamon, J. G., et al. (1997). A mere exposure effect for transformed three-dimensional objects: Effects of reflection, size, or color changes on affect and recognition. Memory & Cognition, 25, 367-374. pdf

Seamon, J. G., et al. (1995). The mere exposure effect is a form of implicit memory:  Effects of stimulus type, encoding conditions, and number of exposures on recognition and affect judgments. Journal of Experimental Psychology: Learning, Memory, and Cognition, 21, 711-721. pdf