The Generalized Quantum Episodic Memory Model

Jennifer S. Trueblood, Pernille Hemmer

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

14 Scopus citations


Recent evidence suggests that experienced events are often mapped to too many episodic states, including those that are logically or experimentally incompatible with one another. For example, episodic over-distribution patterns show that the probability of accepting an item under different mutually exclusive conditions violates the disjunction rule. A related example, called subadditivity, occurs when the probability of accepting an item under mutually exclusive and exhaustive instruction conditions sums to a number >1. Both the over-distribution effect and subadditivity have been widely observed in item and source-memory paradigms. These phenomena are difficult to explain using standard memory frameworks, such as signal-detection theory. A dual-trace model called the over-distribution (OD) model (Brainerd & Reyna, 2008) can explain the episodic over-distribution effect, but not subadditivity. Our goal is to develop a model that can explain both effects. In this paper, we propose the Generalized Quantum Episodic Memory (GQEM) model, which extends the Quantum Episodic Memory (QEM) model developed by Brainerd, Wang, and Reyna (2013). We test GQEM by comparing it to the OD model using data from a novel item-memory experiment and a previously published source-memory experiment (Kellen, Singmann, & Klauer, 2014) examining the over-distribution effect. Using the best-fit parameters from the over-distribution experiments, we conclude by showing that the GQEM model can also account for subadditivity. Overall these results add to a growing body of evidence suggesting that quantum probability theory is a valuable tool in modeling recognition memory.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2089-2125
Number of pages37
JournalCognitive Science
Issue number8
StatePublished - Nov 2017

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
  • Cognitive Neuroscience
  • Artificial Intelligence


  • Hierarchical Bayesian methods
  • Over-distribution
  • Quantum probability theory
  • Recognition memory


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