PSYCH 1X03 Lecture Notes - Memory Rehearsal, Long-Term Memory, Hermann Ebbinghaus
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Psych Week 9: Memory
Memory: the fundamental cognitive mechanism that allows us to store and retrieve info.
Metaphors of memory:
O Acts like a video camera which accurately preserves images and audio to be played back
at a later time
O Acts like a filing cabinet – we create memory files that are stored in an organized folder
system, which can be accessed to remember something.
Frederic Bartlett realized that all of these have something in common. While each does provide a
useful way of thinking about memory in some regard, they are misleading. Each assumes that
memory can store experiences in their original, undistorted form and that memory retrieval is a
The Basics of Memory:
Memory Acquisition: what will be stored in memory?
Memory Storage: how and where will it be stored?
Memory Retrieval: how can memories be returned to consciousness?
Cue-response: studied by behaviourists, one memory acts as a cue to trigger another memory.
Early researchers of memory were heavily influenced by the behaviourists, so it’s not surprising
that early focus of memory research concerned how cues interact with encoding and retrieval
mechanisms of money.
Hermann Ebbinghaus operationally defined memory as a serial learning task.
O As he memorized word lists, he suggested that each word in the list served as a cue that
triggered the memory of the word that followed.
Cuing is an important concept in encoding specificity, a phenomenon by which encoding and
retrieval are linked through cues.
Psychologists rely on cognitive models to understand complex cognitive function, like memory.
Models describe and organize data and most importantly, make specific, testable predictions
that can be studied in controlled experiments in the lab.
The basic memory task involves two phases.
O During the encoding phase, a subject learns a list of items, words, or pictures.
O Recall test: subject is asked to freely generate as many items as she can remember.
O Recognition test: subject is shown several items and asked to judge whether each item
is “new” or “old”
O In experiments, those who are explicitly asked to learn the list of presented items
perform better than subject who are distracted and unexpectedly given a test.
Ebbinghaus performed test using non-sense words. One of the research questions that
interested him was how long memories could be maintained.
O He found that if he took the test immediately after he learned the words, he was able to
recall more than when he waited to take the test. This helped him to construct the
The Multi-Store Model
Multi-store model proposed by Atkinson and Shiffrin in 1968.
Assumes that memory is composed of both short and long-term storage systems.
Incoming perceptual info is first stored in a short-term memory buffer. In a sense, the short term
memory buffer operates in a similar manner to RAM on a computer; info in short term memory
is available online for tasks but is not stored permanently.
Important info in short-term memory can be transferred to long term memory.
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