Long-Lasting Perceptual Priming and Semantic Learning in Amnesia
AbstractAn investigation of perceptual priming and semantic learning in the severely amnesic subject K.C. is reported. He was taught 64 three-word sentences and tested for his ability to produce the final word of each sentence. Despite a total lack of episodic memory, he exhibited (a) strong perceptual priming effects in word-fragment completion, which were retained essentially in full strength for 12 months, and (b) independent of perceptual priming, learning of new semantic facts, many of which were also retained for 12 months. K.C.'s semantic learning may be at least partly attributable to repeated study trials and minimal interference during learning. The findings suggest that perceptual priming and semantic learning are subserved by two memory systems different from episodic memory and that both systems (perceptual representation and semantic memory) are at least partially preserved in some amnesic subjects.