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Lecture 17

PSYC 2265 Lecture 17: PSYC 2265 – Lecture 17 – Autobiographical Memory: Forgetting and Emotions

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PSYC 2265
Dave Cann

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PSYC 2265 – Lecture 17 – Autobiographical Memory: Forgetting and Emotions The Reminiscence Bump • People recall a disproportionately greater number of memories for events that occur between ages 10 to 30 o There's a bump for things people prefer, and events they think are important or historically significant o A marked preference for songs that were popular when they were between 10 and 30 o Books that are memorable tend to be read between 10 and 40 o Similar effects are found for memorable movies o Bump also for semantic memories learned in adulthood ➢ Things we learn in early adulthood are remembered best • Memory mechanisms favour the retrieval of events from early adulthood due to their importance and distinctiveness o These events are thought of (rehearsed) often due to their importance and are not subject to much interference because of their distinctiveness • Cognitive abilities and brain function are at their peak during this time period (better recall) • Notion of identity formation o Adolescence to early adulthood is the critical period for forming an identity (events occurring in this time range will be defining of the life story) Forgetting • A standard forgetting curve for the period immediate preceding recall o Recent events are remembered best • Memory drops from nearly 75% correct to less than 33% correct over a 4 year period (Wagenaar, 1986) o Like the classic forgetting curve (Ebbinghaus) • Common cause of forgetting in AM is lack of rehearsal (without rehearsal, memory suffers) • Interference potential is great with AM o Many events occur over the last month; retrieval is more difficult since no memory is likely to stand out as being distinct • Many daily events are routine o Events tend to blend together (transition from AM to autobiographical fact) Retrieval Cues for AM • Out of the "W" questions (what, when, where, who), what is the most helpful, while when is the least helpful • This is consistent with Brewer (1988) who used a diary study o Locations (where) and time (when) were poor cues but actions (what) were good cues o Indicates that repetition of events leads to poor AM o Replicates Linton (1975) which shows a transition from AM to autobiographical fact Constructivist Model of AM • Proposes that AM is reconstructed from an autobiographical knowledge base (not from whole episodes) • Levels of knowledge in AM o People possess an autobiographical knowledge base that is organized hierarchically, with three distinct layers of knowledge • Organization and retrieval o The first layer is lifetime periods: substantial slices of our lifetime characterized by specific goals, plans, or themes ➢ Within a given periods, autobiographical knowledge is organized into different thematic categories (e.g. work, academics, relationships) o The second layer is general events: a more specific representation of particular events that occurred over the lifetime period in question ➢ Knowledge at the general-event level can be used to access information at the third level of storage o The third layer is event-specific knowledge: here are sensory-perceptual details that can be used to construct/specify a given memory o Autobiographical remembering is a process of retrieval that proceeds from general to specific levels of the AM knowledge base
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