PSYC 325 Lecture 1: Week 1 - Lecture Notes (Ch.1)

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27 Nov 2020
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PSYC 325 Learning and Memory
Week 1 Jan. 9
Chapter 1 The Psychology of Learning and Memory
Introduction to learning and memory
Learning
o The process by which changes in behaviour arise as the result of experience
interacting with the world
o Also the acquisition of knowledge
Memory
o The record of our past experiences, acquired through learning
o Storage of information (unconscious) that may be retrieved when needed
(conscious)
Consider
o Life without your memories
o If you stopped learning today
o Which of your skills are learned vs. innate
Clive Wearing video
o https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=c62C_yTUyVg
o Still has implicit memory
Music skills
Philosophical Traditions
Timeline
Mind, learning and memory have been topics of intense fascination for millennia
Early approaches were primarily philosophically rather than scientific, but many key
question of the fild were identified
Are we shaped by an inherited nature or by experience?
What is the nature of mind and of memory?
How are complex ideas and memories formed?
Nature vs. Nurture
Nativist
o Humans are shaped primarily by their biological inheritance
o Nature
o Fixed at birth
o Born great or not
Empiricist
o Humans are shaped primarily by their experience
o Nurture
o Endless possibilities with the right experiences
Some supporters of nativism:
o Plato
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We are born with innate differences in skill and talent and suggested
sorting by quality soon after birth
o Descartes
Most of our knowledge is innate
Not from experience
Some supporters of empiricism
o Aristotle
Knowledge and talent are matters of training and experience
Not inheritance
o Locke
We are born as blank slates
Tabula rasa
Completely equal and without innate knowledge, and that all our habits
and skills are due to experience
Current approaches?
o Shaped by both nature and nurture
o Still sharp disagreements persist over relative importance in different domains
Eg. IQ
Nature of mind
What is the mind “made of”?
Descartes’ dualism
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o Immaterial soul + mechanical body
Mechanical side
o Our bodily similarity to machines and nonhuman animals
Immaterial soul
o Our ability to think and freely make decisions
Testing knowledge
o Tabula rasa blank slate, empiricist
o Learning lasting change in behaviour and or acquisition of knowledge
o Empiricist holds nurture viewpoint
o Nativist holds nature viewpoint
o Darwin, plate examples of nativists
o Dualism ethereal mind, mechanical body, Descartes
Empiricists believe we are shaped by experience
How do we gain such complex ideas from experience?
Aristotle proposed that ideas are built by rules of association
o 1. Contiguity
Experiences near each other in time/space are joined together
o 2. Frequency
Experiences often repeated are connected more strongly
o 3. Similarity
Experiences similar to one another are connected
Test your knowledge Pavlovs dogs
o Frequency the dogs were trained with the bell-food sequence many times
o Contiguity the bell rang right before the food was presented
o Similarity several different bells could elicit salivation
Associationism was further elaborated by other empiricist thinkers
o Aristotle (382-322 BC)
o John Locke (382-322 BC)
o William James (1842-1910)
Rules of Mind
William James (1842-1910)
o James proposed that experience links ideas in the mind
o Remembering one idea would spread along links, retrieving a complex episode
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