Chapter 8 – Memory
Martin showers in the locker room and gets burned by the water when water is flushed and jumps out
of shower. Later, he hears the flush go off again and jumps out. Jumping out is the Unconditioned
Early understanding of Memory: Associative Models
Belief that memory results from mental connections between ideas and concept. Herman
Ebbinghaus(spelling?)Used himself as the only subject.
In order to remember something we must:
encode (get information to our brain)
store ( keep the info somewhere safe)
retrieve ( get the info back out later)
Serial position effect: From a list of words, the first few words and the last few words are more likely to
be remembered. Beginning of the list has a primacy effect. There is nothing in the brain when the list
starts. Easy to remember. The end of the list has a recency effect. It’s recent. People think that primacy
effect is long term memory. On the other hand, recency effect is short term.
Sensory Memory store:
Function: holds information long enough to be processed for basic physical characteristics.
Capacity: large- can hold many items at once
Duration: very brief retention of images - 0.3 seconds for visual info and 2 seconds for auditory
Divided to two main subtypes: iconic memory and echoic memory (visual and auditory) Sperling (1960)
Sperling: presented a matrix of letters for 1/20 seconds
Subjects report as many letters as possible
Sperling showed people can see and recall ALL the letters momentarily
Sounded low, medium or high immediately after matrix disappeared
Tone signalled 1 row to report and recall was almost perfect
Memory for image fades after 1/3 seconds or so, making report of entire display hard to do.
Beyond sensory memory, how do we encode info?
Two types of encoding:
Automatic Processing – requires little or no effort and very difficult to shut off - “DOG”. Not learned –
space, time and frequency. Learned – Reading, driving and studying. We can learn automatic processing!
Effortful Processing – “949 -7626”Short term Memory store
Function – conscious processing of info
Where info is actively worked on
Capacity – limited (holds 7 +/- 2 items)
Duration – brief storage ( about 30 seconds)
Longer than 30 seconds?
Maintenance rehearsal - Mental or verbal repetition of information. Allows information to remain in
working memory longer than the usual 30 seconds. Remembering a phone number for a short period of
time! Without rehearsal, memory fades.
Higher level processes can influence the capacity of short term memory.
Long term memory store:
Once information passes from sensory to working memory, it can be encoded into long-term memory
Encoding – process that controls movement from working to long term memory store
Retrieval – process that controls the flow of…
Effortful processing – requires attention and conscious effort
Rehearsal – conscious repetition of information
To maintain it in consciousness
To encode it for storage
Practice effect – Ebbinghaus found that Memory is better when there have been more practice trials.
Spacing effect – distributed practice is better than mass practice
Long-term Memory store
Function: organizes and stores information – more passive form of storage than working memory.
Capacity – unlimited!
Duration: thought by some to be permanent.
Encoding transfers info from STM to LTM
Retrieval Failure – “I know it’s in there but I can’t get it out”
Encoding Failure – Never got in there properly in the first place. Lack of practice etc.
Role of time – memories erode or fade over time
Types of long term memories:Explicit (Declarative) with conscious recall:
Facts – general knowledge (Semantic memory). Knowing what the word “restaurant” means etc.
Knowing how many how many continents there are.
Personally experienced events (Episodic memory): Thinking about the last experience you had at the
restaurant. The last “episode” in your experiences.
Implicit (Nondeclarative) without conscious recall:
Skills-motor and cognitive – Riding a bike
Dispositions – classical and operant conditioning effects
Encoding Failure Demo: What letters accompany the number 5 on your phone? You see it often but it
doesn’t register in your head. How many maple leaves are on the tails side of a Canadian penny? Even
though we see it every day, we don’t really know details because we don’t put effort in remembering
Role of time: Decay Theory
Memories fade away or decay gradually if unused
Time plays critical role
Ability to retrieve information declines with time after original encoding
Problem: Many things change with time. Something else may cause interference
Proactive Interference: Something learned earlier disrupts something learned later.
Retroactive Interference: Something learned later disrupts something learned earlier.