Date of Award


Document Type

Union College Only

Degree Name

Bachelor of Science



First Advisor

Stephen Romero




memory, retention, scanning, recall, activation, tasks


Previous research suggests that memory retention depends on the type of memory encoding. Functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging (fMRI) was used to investigate memory encoding while processing items in relation to other items (relational processing) or processing an item alone (item-specific processing) while controlling for semantic processing. In two experiments, participants performed item-specific and relational tasks during fMRI. In the item-specific tasks, participants were asked to rate words semantically based either on pleasantness (Experiment 1) or non-semantically on rhyme-ability (Experiment 2). In the relational tasks, participants were asked to taxonomically categorize words semantically based on features (Experiment 1) or non-semantically by the first letter (Experiment 2). After scanning, participants were given free-recall and recognition tests. It was hypothesized that the item-specific task would activate different brain regions than the relational task and differences would be also found across the semantic and non-semantic nature of the two experiments. Results from both experiments showed no activation greater in the item-specific tasks than relational tasks. Areas of activation greater in the relational tasks than item-specific included parietal, precuneus, limbic lobe, and cingulate gyrus in Experiment 1 and frontal lobe and middle frontal gyrus in Experiment 2.