"What-Where-Which" Episodic Retrieval Requires Conscious Recollection and Is Promoted by Semantic Knowledge
Plos one
Saive AL
Royet JP
Garcia s
Thevenet M
Plailly J

Episodic memory is defined as the conscious retrieval of specific past events. Whether accurate episodic retrieval requires a recollective experience or if a feeling of knowing is sufficient remains unresolved. We recently devised an ecological approach to investigate the controlled cued-retrieval of episodes composed of unnamable odors (What) located spatially (Where) within a visual context (Which context). By combining the Remember/Know procedure with our laboratory-ecological approach in an original way, the present study demonstrated that the accurate odor-evoked retrieval of complex and multimodal episodes overwhelmingly required conscious recollection. A feeling of knowing, even when associated with a high level of confidence, was not sufficient to generate accurate episodic retrieval. Interestingly, we demonstrated that the recollection of accurate episodic memories was promoted by odor retrieval-cue familiarity and describability. In conclusion, our study suggested that semantic knowledge about retrieval-cues increased the recollection which is the state of awareness required for the accurate retrieval of complex episodic memories.