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Lecture 5

PSY100H1 Lecture Notes - Lecture 5: Artificial Neural Network, Echoic Memory, Processor Register

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Michael Inzlicht

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Lecture 5
Uoft was famous for its memory center in the past decade. Memory has a personal factor,
who you are is a product of what you remember (which is related to our explicit and
implicit identity).
One classic model to understand memory is the Shiffrin and Atkinson Model of Memory.
This model is a combination of different memory systems which are organized in terms of
how fast they operate. Sensory input feeds into sensory memory system- a system that
very rapidly processes the world and preserves it for a very short period of time. What we
pay attention to is very important as it will tend to preserve certain pieces of information in
our memory system. The information will be deeply biologically embedded so that it lasts
for long periods of time. Attention transfers memory from the sensory memory system into
short-term memory system- a memory system that can preserve information for a short
period of time. Short term memory system allows us to do things such as make decisions,
solve problems, keep multiple pieces of information in mind at one time, look through
something complex etc. You can keep information in your short term memory system for
ever provided you keep rehearsing it. )f you don’t rehearse, the information slips away. To
get information to be useable over a long term, we have to transfer that information from
our short term memory to the long term memory system- a process that is known as
encoding. There are various aspects of this process. There are ways to get information to
be deeply biologically embedded so that it could be retrieved later on.
Sensory memory system
This system is extremely accurate, it processes information very quickly, and its time
dynamics are very fast. It takes most of our immediate sensory information. If you pass
information quickly enough into your short term memory, then you can preserve it;
everything else that you don’t transfer is lost. )n a deeper sense, this idea that information
is lost forever unless you transfer it into your short term memory system, is sort of not
true. There are certain ways in which information does get deeply encoded.
Implicit/procedural learning- you don’t necessarily have to pay attention to what’s going
around you in order for that to be programming your cerebellum to learn how to function
in the world- there is a deep level of implicit, very subtle learning that goes on outside of
your attention.
Sperling Memory Example- the classic studied that showed the functioning of the short
term memory system from a visual perspective was Sperling. In a lab, they would fix your
chin on a chin rest and tell you exactly what to focus on for a very short period of time (for
about 1/20 of a second). Sperling showed that in highly controlled setting people were able
to get with a very high degree of accuracy to whatever he asked them about. But after a few
seconds if he didn’t ask them anything and waited for some time, then people’s accuracy
dropped really fast. From this experiment, Sperling understood that our visual sensory
memory register is picking up the whole information (for example the whole grid) and if
you ask people after 1 second, rate of accuracy will be high, but if you let 5 seconds go by
then most of it starts to fade. The Echoic memory system (auditory sensory memory
register) functions in a similar kind of way. These memory systems allow us to blend the
world together into a seamless kind of continuous stream of consciousness- the world
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doesn’t get broken up into pieces that don’t make sense. We can kind of blend the next
couple of moments together with the last couple of moments and as a result we experience
continuous stream of reality.
If our sensory system is picking up all the information, but is losing it very fast then this
creates a problem- it means we could only function by couple of seconds of time. Attention
is very helpful in fixing us biologically on certain pieces of information. Attention is like a
spotlight that selectively highlights certain pieces of information and makes them more
biologically salient to you so that you are able to pay attention to that information for a
long period of time. Attention shifts information from one level of processing to another
(from your sensory system to short-term memory system).
We depend on our short term memory system fundamentally to function in the world. If
you could only capture information for a few seconds, that would be highly problematic-
you wouldn’t be able to read a book because by the time you get to the last sentence you
forget whatever they said at the beginning of the sentence. Your working memory system
allows you to keep information active in your neural net for long enough so that you can
think about multiple things. However there are vast limitations in your working memory
system/short term memory system. Understanding these limitations and understanding
how to work these limitations has a lot to do with making you a better processor of
information. Working memory models have elaborated considerably and differentiated
into different sub-systems: phonological loop (auditory working memory system),
visuospatial sketchpad (oriented more towards visual information), and central executive.
These sub-systems specializes in different types of information.
One of the old metaphors that were common is that it is like a workbench- you can put 7
tools on it (the reason it is 7 is that research has shown through many studies that there is
a fairly narrow range of people’s short term memory system. Most people’s short term
memory system can handle 7 pieces of information +/- 2). Majority of people fall between
the ranges of 5-9. When a new item is put on the bench, another one falls off. There are
limitations. This understanding of capacity has also been updated. When you’re trying to
process a bunch of information, you can only handle limited information; if you over load
yourself with information beyond your capacity then you start to lose information. There
are ways to work within those limitations. Understanding what is meant by pieces of
information is useful. Short term memory system can handle 7 (+/- 2) units of meaning.
Short term memory system is expandable within narrow range of limitation- 7 units and
each unit is expandable considerably. This process is called chunking- storing information
in patterns, or units of meaning. For example, UNICEFCSIKGB can be broken down into
UNICEF CSIS KGB. If you recognize these at the institutional level, then you have better
chances of remembering the list- if you don’t recognize these then you are engaging in
bottom-up processing, you are trying to jam new words into your memory. Chunking is
very important for remembering things.
Dolderman and his friend once got challenged to memorize the digits of pie. They decided
to memorize together by saying it loudly to one another. They ended up memorizing 70
digits of pie. The reason was, by saying it out loud and interactively with each other, there
was a kind of rhythm to it- different chunks of it was easy to memorize than digit by digit.
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