Episodic Memory: Lessons from the Scrub Jays
We begin our description of human consciousness in its first evolutionary phase: the Episodic Mind. The Episodic Mind constitutes the original frame through which our hominid ancestors viewed the world (shown in Fig. 4.1). In this period more than 1.8 million years ago, human consciousness was much like other animals (Donald 1991, p. 163). While it remains the fundamental consciousness for most animal species, humans have further evolved, which we describe in subsequent chapters. The Episodic Mind remains, however, the first layer of our present-day consciousness. It forms the layer of human intersection with the world, the layer of first contact. And we remember our contact in episode experiences in what is called episodic memory. “Episodic memory stores the specific details of [our] situations and life events” (Donald 1991, p. 151). It does not, as procedural memory does, generalize “across situations and life events,” nor does it store facts and other knowledge, the purview of our semantic memory.
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