LONG TERM MEMORY
* Exams based solely on lectures*
Lecture 1: Ebbinghause and the Science of Human Memory
Superior Autobiographical Memory
Ability to remember minute details every day in their lives
Tested on their knowledge/memory of public events eg. Death of a famous person (Because
it’s objectively verifiable (unlike asking them a personal question we would have no idea about
with re. to the answer)
Science of human memory
Hermann Ebbinghause 1880s experimental psychology
o Inspired by Fechner’s book ‘Elements of Psychophysics’ to apply principles of
psychophysics to study of memory
o Fechner = first exp. psychologist
o Working in tradition of an Associationist: Emphasises an important role for learned
connections/associations bw simple ideas. Eg. Eiffel tower and notre dame. This
emphasis on learned associations favours nurture over nature.
o Developed the ‘Nonsense Syllable’ (Consonant, vowel, consonant eg. KOT) to create an
uncontaminated/novel way of testing how these associations were initially formed.
PRO: Uncontaminated by previous experience Therefore he had total exp.
Control over learning as he controlled what the subjects would initially learn.
CON: These syllables are meaningless. He was blinded to the important role
that knowledge and previous personal exp. Has on the development of an
o Used himself as his own subject
Problem is that his own expectations of the exp. Could influence the actual
outcome of the experiment (Experiment’s expectations inadvertently bias the
o Spent hours learning the nonsense syllables and timed how long he took to kearn
them. Used ROTE SERIAL RECALL method = Just repeated the syllables he made up
over and over again until he could recite them from memory. (He didn’t use any
Very long experiments.
o To measure memory he used the ‘METHOD OF SAVINGS,’ and the savings represented
how much time he saved each time he revised what he learnt the previous time (the
difference in time).
Learnt the list on nonsense syllables until he could recite them without error,
and then after a period of delay (Retention time), he learnt the list again, and
each time he learn it again, he would take less and less time, and this change in
time was recorded as the tim