Can you distinguish the taste of a red wine versus a rosé? How about the look of a 1960s muscle car versus a foreign import? Do you prefer to grow lilies or tulips? Would you rather listen to Dark Side of the Moon or “Fly Me to the Moon”? To answer any of these questions, you need to use your semantic memory.

Your semantic memory is your store of factual knowledge of the world and the meaning of words. It’s how you know that a fork is for eating (not twirling your hair) and what color a lion is. It’s both the source of your vocabulary and how you know what something does even if you don’t know the name of it — like that little bit of plastic that covers the end of a shoelace (an aglet).

Image by Steve Buissinne from Pixabay

Use episodic memory to increase your semantic memory

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