The research SE.ME.NA.ME (Staged Event - Memory - Narrative - Memory)
SE.ME.NA.ME (Staged Event-Memory-Narrative-Memory) is a research project that originates from the previous results of ME.NA.ME and RE.NA.ME, with which it shares its fundamental constructs. Starting from the assumption that the narration about personal experience is a privileged tool of rehearsal for autobiographical memories and that the listener plays a fundamental role in the narrative process and in the elaboration and co-construction of the memory, the researchers formulated new research questions.
Firstly, how much do the retrieval methods affect memory? Does the use of language modify memory? How does it do?
And secondly, how could we copy with the heterogeneity of the personal events that are narrated?
Concerning the first questions, autobiographical narratives are more than a simple way to put thoughts into words. They are a transformative process that deeply modifies thoughts, memories and imagination. Notwithstanding, scholars mainly used narratives to retrieve autobiographical memories: they asked for a transformation of the memory from an inner language to an explicit one, but did not assess the influence of language on memory.
Consequently, in order to study how language affects memory, this study assessed autobiographical memory by means of a tool that limited the amount of explicit linguistic production.
The second question raised from the observation that the traditional retrieval methods produced an heterogenous pool of autobiographical narratives that were difficult to compare one with another. Thus, the need to use a new procedure emerged, in order to compare the narrated autobiographical memories. Studies that used staged events appeared as an inspiration for a possible solution.
Staged events are planned events produced in the laboratory setting, that physically and emotionally involve participants. Staged events provide participants with a detailed experience: they are complex events, that often consist of several episodes, where the participants have to observe or to perform several actions. For this reason, they need for a high-level retrieval. Moreover, staged events often emotionally involve participants with disturbing situations. In this way, the retrieval of the event may be confounded or disrupted.
In order to assess how language affects memory, and in order to compare a more homogenous pool of personal memories, the SE.ME.NA.ME project assessed memory before and after its linguistic elaboration, that, in line with the ME.NA.ME and RE.NA.ME project, took place in different listening contexts: an empathic listening context and a detached one.