Encyclopedia of Clinical Neuropsychology

2011 Edition
| Editors: Jeffrey S. Kreutzer, John DeLuca, Bruce Caplan

Semantic Memory

  • Jill B. Rich
Reference work entry
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-0-387-79948-3_1156



Semantic memory encompasses one’s general world knowledge. It also refers to a memory system that stores, organizes, and manipulates information pertaining to the meaning of words, concepts, and their associations. This organized knowledge system enables people to make judgments about the properties and functions of items, such as whether a hammer is a living or nonliving thing, can be categorized as a tool, has a handle, or is larger than a screwdriver. Semantic memory is almost always contrasted with episodic memory. Whereas factual information within semantic memory is context free (e.g., knowing that the weather in Acapulco is typically hot, Thai food is spicy, the chemical symbol for potassium is K), episodic memory is contextually detailed (e.g., recollections of getting sunburned in Acapulco, eating a spicy meal at a Thai restaurant, studying the periodic table to learn chemical symbols). Thus, semantic memory is...

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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  • Jill B. Rich
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of PsychologyYork UniversityTorontoCanada