Audiovisual Semantic Congruency During Encoding Enhances Memory Performance

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Studies of memory and learning have usually focused on a single sensory modality, although human perception is multisensory in nature. In the present study, we investigated the effects of audiovisual encoding on later unisensory recognition memory performance. The participants were to memorize auditory or visual stimuli (sounds, pictures, spoken words, or written words), each of which co-occurred with either a semantically congruent stimulus, incongruent stimulus, or a neutral (non-semantic noise) stimulus in the other modality during encoding. Subsequent memory performance was overall better when the stimulus to be memorized was initially accompanied by a semantically congruent stimulus in the other modality than when it was accompanied by a neutral stimulus. These results suggest that semantically congruent multisensory experiences enhance encoding of both nonverbal and verbal materials, resulting in an improvement in their later recognition memory.

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