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Lecture 8

PSYCH 1X03 Lecture 8: Memory

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McMaster University
Joe Kim

PSYCH 1X03 Memory • The fundamental cognitive mechanism that allows you to encode, store and re- trieve information Metaphors • Video camera o Accurately preserves images and audio to be played back at a later time • Filing Cabinet o Create memory files that are stored and organized in a folder system which can be later accessed • Computer o Specialized components are responsible for handling different memories at different times • These metaphors are misleading and have many assumptions o Stored data is identical to inputted information o Retrieved data is identical to inputted information Memory • Stored memory includes personal detail and interpretations • Retrieved memory may be altered or lost • Memory is subject to interpretation and reconstruction Three questions about Memory: • Acquisition and encoding: what will be stored in memory? • Storage: what will be stored in memory? • Retrieval: how can memories be returned to consciousness Cues trigger memories and interact with encoding and retrieval mechanisms of memory Memory Tasks • Basic memory tasks involve two phases: o Encoding Phase: a subject learns a list of items, words or pictures o Retrieval phase: subjects are tested for their memory of the items present- ed during the encoding phase • Recall Test: a subject is asked to freely generate as many items as they can re- member • Recognition Test: a subject is shown several items and is asked to judge whether each item is “new”, meaning it was not previously presented, or “old”, meaning it was previously presented • Both of these test the ability to remember items from the encoding phase ▯1 PSYCH 1X03 Serial Learning Task and Hermann Ebbinghaus • When memorizing a nonsense word list, each word in the list is a cued that trig- gers the memory of the next word • Experiment: o Ebbinghaus memorized lists of “nonsense words” during the encoding phase and later tested his recall ability during the retrieval phase o Importantly, he chose to use nonsense words to minimize the influence of his prior experience on his test results • He was interested in how long memo- ries could be maintained o Found that his ability to recall words was highest immediately following learning and that over time he was able to remember fewer and fewer words o He constructed the “forgetting curve” which describes the rapidly decreasing rate of recall over time o Most of the forgetting occurs early on with the rate of forget- ting slowing over time The Memory-Store Model • Memory is composed of Short and Long Term storage systems • Short Term Memory o Incoming perceptual information is first stored in a short-term memory buffer o Information in short term memory is available for online tasks but not stored permanently o Important information encoded in short term memory can be transferred to the long-term memory system for more permanent storage ▪ If items in short term memory are rehearsed, they may be trans- ferred to long term memory o George Miller found that for most short-term memory tasks, like memo- rizing a random sequence of numbers, people could remember about 7±2 items. o Chunking: organizing information into “chunks” of meaningful packets, therefore greatly expanding the capacity of short-term memory ▪ Letter groupings that form works pack even more information into a single chunk and allow for greater memory ▯2 PSYCH 1X03 • E.g. Only being able to remember 7 letters, but being able to remember 7 different animal names (each of which may be 7 letters) o Short term memory there for has a capacity of 7±2 “chunks” of informa- tion The value of a cognitive model can be judged by how well it explains data and makes testable predictions. The Serial Position Curve • Memory position is often best for items that were presented earlier or later in the list and worst for items presented in the middle of the list • Primacy Effect: memory performance is good for items encoded early in the list o The multi-store model explains that items at the beginning of the list will be the first to enter short-term memory and have the most opportunity to be rehearsed and being stored in long term memory • Items in the middle of the list have less opportunity for rehearsal and therefore less opportunity of being transferred into long-term memory • Recency Effect: memory performance is good for items encoded later in the list o While these items have had the least opportunity for rehearsal and transfer to long term memory, they stay within the short term memory buffer of around 7 items Memory Store Model and Predictions • Improving Primacy o Prediction: if the primacy effect is driven by rehearsing items into the long-term memory, then the primacy effect should be influence by a ma- nipulation that interferes with a subject’s ability to rehearse items o Test: manipulating the presentation time of each item to be remembering in the list. Having more time to encode each item would allow for more rehearsal. o Therefore, the primacy effect should be enhanced when using a longer time interval • Diminishing Recency o Prediction: if the recency effect is driven by items remaining active in the short-term memory buffer, then the recency effect should be influenced by a manipulation that affects the contents of the short-term memory store.A manipulation that causes the most recent contents of the short-term memo- ry to be replaced or disrupted should neutralize the recency effect o Test:Ask a subject to perform a distracting task immedia
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