PSY 102 Lecture Notes - Lecture 7: Kim Peek, Iconic Memory, Sensory Memory

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15 Aug 2016
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PSY102
CHAPTER 7 : MEMORY
Memory
The retention of information over time (e.g., sensory, short-term, long-term)
Our memories are surprisingly good in most situations (e.g., remembering how to get to
work)
Our memories are surprisingly bad in others (e.g., names of people we’ve met)
This is referred to as the paradox of memory
Paradox of Memory
The same mechanisms that serve us well most of the time can (and do) fail us in certain
situations!
We remember HUGE amounts of information
e.g., pictures presented for only a few seconds
e.g., lyrics to hundreds of songs
Some people have exceptional memory
Kim Peek, the real “Rain Man”
Rajan, memorized the number pi
Paradox of Memory
Remembering words that weren’t on the list is the result of a memory illusion
Our brains go beyond the available information to make sense of the world
representative heuristic
Generally adaptive, but makes us prone to errors
Reconstructive Memory
When remembering, we actively reconstruct memories, not passively reproduce them
Close your eyes and briefly try to remember your walk on to campus this morning
Did you see yourself as if from a distance (observer)
Did you see the world through your own eyes (field)
Three Systems of Memory
Sensory: raw data from sense organs that make up our perceptions of the world
Short-term: transforms sensory inputs into meaningful information.
Long-term memory: retention of important information from minutes, to year, to a lifetime
Differ in terms of span and duration
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Sensory Memory
Allows us to watch TV/Netflix by connecting the frames that are presented briefly.
Allows us to “fill in the blanks” in our perceptions so that they are viewed as a holistic stream
of events.
Each sensory modality has its own form of sensory memory.
E.g., for vision it’s called Iconic memory
Iconic Memory (Sperling)
Participants see a list of 12 letters for one-twentieth of a second, asked to recall what they saw
Most could remember 4-5 letters
Each participant recalled different letters
Sperling then used a tone to signal to participants which row to report
Most reported all letters in that row!
They had access to all 12 letters in their memories, but they fade so quickly that they
can’t report them all
Short-term Memory
Retains information for limited duration
Related to working: holds information we are currently processing actively
Petersons (1959) experiment: presented participants with lists of three letters (MKP or
ASN)
Some participants waited 3 seconds before recall
Some participants waited 18 seconds before recall
Both groups had to count backward in threes while waiting
After 10-15 seconds, most people did no better than chance!
Decay and Interference
We can lose information in our STM due to two different processes
Decay – fades over time
Interference – competition between memories, new incoming information
e.g. like radio signals that jam each other
More research support for the role of interference
2 Types of Interference
Retroactive: when learning new information hampers something previously learned
Proactive: when earlier learning gets in the way of learning something new.
Both are more likely to occur when old and new stimuli similar
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