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Psychology 2135A/B Lecture Notes - 6 Years, Hermann Ebbinghaus, Diminishing Returns

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Robert Brown

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Lecture 8 - Long Term Memory
- we have many things to remember
- memory is to guide behaviour; do what worked last time
Characteristics of LTM
- appears endless; always able to learn
- when born, lots of neurons, but a lot die off as relations between some neurons are built; some
brain cells can be made but very insignificant amount
- 100 billion to 500 billion neurons; each neuron on average makes 10000 connections
- connections appear to allow storage of information
- neurons have random rate of firing and rate can increase or decrease due to presentation of
stimulus; increases capacity of memory
- Harry Bahrick (1984); concept of permastore
- tested older people on their recall off Spanish vocabulary learned in high school many
years earlier; 50 years later, a lot of it survived; not used or rehearsed
- General trend: recall declined for first 3 to 6 years; not much forgetting for the next
three decades; final decline after 30 to 35 years
- recognition is easier to remember
- Herman Ebbinghaus (1850-1909); first scientific studies of memory; interested in forgetting;
used himself as a subject (1885)
- used nonsense syllables to avoid previous learning; study raw, unaided ability (this way
is not natural; people remember by connecting new information to memory)
- criteria: able to write a list down perfectly twice; find how long it took
- after done criteria, see how much was forgotten over time
- forgetting curve: most of loss occurs soon after learning
- when relearning, had to read list much less times; shows some memory is still there
even if cannot access it
- saving score is difference of amount of trials needed to relearn and amount of trials
needed to learn
- showed person can have knowledge they do not know they have
- learning curve: most learning occurs with first exposure to information, with
diminishing returns for further exposures
- distributed learning (across multiple sessions) is more effective than massed
learning (all in one session)
- doesn't allow more storage, allows more resistance to being forgotten
- being tested allows easier memorizing [maybe]
- Jenkins and Dallenbach (1924)
- students remembered more when they learned at night then went to sleep
- students forgot more when they learned at morning and went about their day
- this was explained in terms of interference; occurs when some information disrupts
either encoding or retrieval of other information
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