Lecture 4, 5, 6 & 7 1/17/2013 10:53:00 AM
Chapter 10: Memory
Reconstructing the Past:
o The capacity to retain and retrieve information
o The changes in the structures that account for this capacity.
o Reconstructive process
E.g. the case of H.H. and memory impairment.
Learning vs. Memory
We have “learned” about learning
But in psychology “learning” refers to behaviours
“memory” refers to knowledge
Manufacture of Memory
many metaphors over time that don’t acknowledge that memory is selective
o Bartlett’s studies and reconstructive memory
Told stories with unfamiliar content when retold the unfamiliar content was
replaces with familiar content; the re-teller thought they were remembering
o Reconstruction often involved source misattribution:
The inability to distinguish an actual memory of an event from information you
learned about the event elsewhere.
Unusual, shocking, or tragic event may hold a special place in memory
Flashbulb memories: characterized by surprise, illumination, and seemingly photographic
o Events seem frozen in time and detail.
Have done follow up on studies after “big events” like JFK assassination and 9/11
My prof remembers being at a baseball game when he heard about JFK
o But JFK was assassinated in November, it wasn’t possible.
Many errors in memories of people for 9/11, less likely to make errors when the event happens
TO YOU rather than AROUND you. rMidterm
50 multiple choice
60 minutes long
I am writing in turret
Based on Ch 7 and 10
Everything in the textbook is fair game
Confusion of an event that happened to someone else with one that happened to you
Belief that you remember something when it never actually happened
False memories can be as stable over time as true ones
An event that didn’t happen to you but happened to someone else but you think that you were present during
this event or that this event happened to you
Which is most likely to be a flashbulb memory?
Memory of a natural disaster that happened in your lifetime
Conditions of confabulation
Confabulation is most likely when:
1. You have thought, heard, or told others about the imagined event often (imagination inflation)
2. The image of the events contains lots of details that make it feel real
3. The event is easy to imagine
cognitive schema: We have a presupposed idea of what something look or feels like
People tend to misremember every day common events
A case of confabulation
Airplane crashed in the Netherlands
Hit a major city
There was no video and no photos were taken
About 66% of people surveyed a year later “remember seeing the crash on the news”
Easy to imagine because they have seen other crashes
President Bush confabulates 9-11
President bushed ‘recalled’ seeing the first plane hit while in his limousine
Can’t have, he was in a classroom from 10 mins prior to 10 mins after
Conspiracy theorists say this ‘proves’ a huge conspiracy over 9-11, coordinated by Bush
What is proves is that even the president is subject to problem of confabulation Misremembering this event
No documentation of the first plane hitting the twin towers
Memory and Suggestion
Eyewitness Testimony is important, but not always reliable..
E.g., case of Thomas Sophonow
Twice convicted on eyewitness testimony in the 1980’s
Acquitted because of DNA evidence in 2000
Factors that influence eyewitness accuracy
Cross- race identification, the wording of questions, leading questions, misinformation, suggestive comments
Where did he hurt you implies that he did hurt you
By placing the words the and a in a sentence can change an individuals answer entirely
Did you see the broken headlights on the car?
Did you see a broken headlight on the car?
Suppose two cars collided, which implies that on was speeding?
Where were you when the cars smashed into one another?
Which on these could be a leading question?
Did you see the broken headlight? leads the witness to assume a headlight was broken. Witness is more
likely to say yes a headlight was broken in this case because it is leading
Did you see a broken headlight?
Can children be accurate eyewitnesses?
Yes, but influenced by same factors as adults, especially repeated and suggestive questioning
May lead them to say and come to recall events that never happened
E.g., Canadian case in Martensville, Saskatchewan in 1992
Example of leading question in child molestation investigation
Child may be asked in such a way that assumes a ‘yes’ answer
E.g. “show me where he touched you” vs “Did he touch you?”
Child may be told other children said it happened, this will make them more likely to say it happened
Do not tell them what other children said if you want an honest answer
Do not use leading questions
When asked if a visitor committed acts that had not occurred, both age and type of questioning makes a big
difference! When investigators used techniques taken from real child- abuse investigations, most children said yes
Younger children (aged 3) are more likely to say yes to leading questions and influencing techniques
Which question may be best to start an interview with a child if there is a suspicion of molestation?
Tell me who molested you
Tell me why you are here to talk to me today
Your friend says he was molested, were you molested too?
After you were molested did you tell anyone?
In Pursuit of Memory
Measuring how memory works generally evaluates two forms of memories:
Explicit memory: conscious, intentional recollection of an event or of an item of information
Stuff you are aware of an you can talk about, things like facts
Implicit memory: unconscious retention in memory, as evidenced by the effect of a previous experience or
encountered information on current thoughts or actions
The influence commercials have on us, going on all the time, unconsciously, we are not aware of this, you
know how to do it however you don’t really know how to explain it to someone
Unconscious effect they have on us
What is an example of explicit memory?
Recalling that skinner was a founder of Behaviourism
Which is an example of implicit memory?
Getting on a bike and being able to ride
Refers to conscious, intentional recollection
Assessed using recall and recognition tasks
Recall: the ability to retrieve and reproduce from memory previously encountered material
Recognition: the ability to identify previously encountered material
Recognition usually easier than recall tasks
Common method is priming where a person is exposed to information and later tested to see if this influences
behaviour or performance on another task
Also tested using the relearning method: comparing time required to relearn material with initial learning
Recognition better than recall example In your mind list snow white’s 7 dwarves from the original Disney story?
Which of these are Snow White’s dwarves?
Happy, Grumpy, Sleepy, Sneezy, Giggly, Friendly, Dopey, Sleepy, Trendy, Doc, Bashful, Lazy, Feisty
Recognition is easier to do then recall
Models of Memory
Cognitive processes involve computer ideas of encoding, storing, and retrieving information
Information represented as concepts, propositions, images, or cognitive schemas
Includes the three-box model of memory
Parallel distributed processing
Knowledge is represented as connections among thousands of interacting processing units,
distributed in a vast network operating in parallel
Three- Box Model of Memory
Three separate memory systems
Sensory register, short- term memory (STM), long-term memory (LTM)
THIS IS IN THE TEXTBOOK LOOK IT UP
A memory system that momentarily preserves extremely accurate images of sensory information
Specific to each sense (0.5- 2 secs duration)
Identification of stimulus based on info in LTM
Information not transferred quickly to STM is lost
Can influence our implicit memory later on
Short- term memory (STM) Current thinking, what you are thinking about
A limited- capacity memory system involved in the retention of information for brief periods
Used to hold information retrieved from LTM for temporary use (referred to as working
Working memory: STM + the mental processes the control retrieval of information from LTM and
interpret information appropriately for given tasks
Capacity of STM limited, as reflected in Miller’s magic number 7 +/- 2 units
Enhance capacity by chunking: creating meaningful units of information, often composed of
E.g., CBC is one chunk of information Meaningful and emotional items will transfer quickly to LTM, others require more effort to
transfer this material
Long Term Memory (LTM)
LTM is the memory system involving long term storage of information
How is information organized?
o A larger grouping into which items similar in some characteristic can be places. (e.g.
chair belongs to the category of furniture).
o Sound or look
o E.g. tip of the tongue (TOT) states.
o You’re trying to remember something and you remember that the first letter of the
Contents of LTM:
o Memories for the performance of actions or skills (“knowing how”)
o memories of facts, rules, conceptions, and events. (“knowing that”)
o General knowledge, including facts, rules, concepts, and propositions.
o Personally experienced events and the contexts in which they occurred.
From STM to LTM:
Serial position effect
o The tendency for recall of the first and last items on a list to surpass recall of items in the
middle of the list.
o Recall will be best for items at beginning of list
o Recall will be best for items at end of list.
The Biology of Memory:
forming a memory involved chemical and structural changed at the level of the neuron
long term potentiation: o a long lasting increase in the strength of synaptic responsiveness
o reflects Hebbian learning ideas; many involve glutamate
Linked to memory consolidation:
o A process by which the synaptic changed associated with recently stored memories
become durable and stable, causing memory to be more reliable.
Biology and Memory:
In short term memory, changes within neurons temporarily alter the neuron’s ability to release
In long term memory, long term potentiation or a long lasting increase in the strength of synaptic
Brain imaging and testing had demonstrated:
Frontal lobe activity linked to STM tasks
Hippocampal activity during declarative LTM tasks.
Prefrontal cortex and areas adjacent to hippocampus active when encoding words and pictures
Procedural memories linked to changes in cerebellum
Cerebral cortex involved information of LTM.
Biology and “baby brain”
Putative memory impairments that many pregnant women report.
Pregnant women show increased performance for spatial and working memory, but decrease for
verbal memory, or prospective memory (remembering to do something).
May actually reflect comparison to women with better memories.
When women are tested before becoming pregnancy, differences are small.
Hormones, Emotions, and Memory:
Hormones released adrenal glands during stress and emotional arousal enhance memory.
Combined effort of epinephrine and glucose may play a key role
Research on “sweet memories”
o The idea that sugar helps memory.
o Moderate levels of stress hormones optimal.
o Animal studies demonstrate that too much impairs memory.
How we Remember: Effective encoding:
o Automatic encoding: accurate encoding that takes place automatically, without effort.
o E.g. where you usually sit in the classroom.
o to retain complex information, you might have to select the main points, label concepts,
or associate the information with personal experiences or material you already know.
o One way to make encoding happen is through rehearsal.
o Maintenance rehearsal:
tore repetition of material to maintain availability
o Elaborative rehearsal:
association of new information with already stored knowledge; analysis of new
information to make it memorable.
Also involves deep processing vs. shallow processing.
Why we Forget:
o Information in memory eventually disappears if it is not accessed (applies
better to short-term than to long-term memory)
o New information can wipe out old information
o E.g. misinformation and the stop sign study.
o Retroactive interference:
When recently learning material interferes with ability to
remember similar material stored previously.
o Proactive interference:
When previously stored material interferes with ability to
remember similar, more recently learned material
o Cue-dependent forgetting:
Inability to retrieve information stored in memory because of
insufficient retrieval cues.
State-dependent memory: Tendency to remember something wen the
physical/mental state during original
experience/learning matches current state.
Tendency to remember experiences that are
consistent with ones current moon (forgetting those
that are not.)
o Psychogenic amnesia:
Loss of personal identity associated with psychological causes.
(e.g. need to escape feelings of embarrassment, guilt, shame,
disappointment, emotional shock.)
o Traumatic amnesia:
Temporary memory loss involving burying of specific traumatic
events for a long period of time.
“Immune to distortion over time, occurs due to repression
o In psychoanalytic theory, the selective involuntary pushing of threatening
or upsetting information into the unconscious
o Individuals are more likely to struggle with forgetting traumatic events.
o Hard to distinguish repression from other forms of forgetting.
Researchers argue against special unconscious mechanism.
Why repression doesn’t “make sense”:
There are no reported cases of repression for the Holocaust, being a prisoner or
war or being in combat.
If people repressed trauma this would be the case.
“repressed memories: come back “perfectly” and aren’t subject to errors like
other memories… that doesn’t seem likely.
What may look like repression:
sometimes people do seem to be repressing
o but may not be because they actually can’t remember
may distract themselves when they remember
may focus on positive memories when they retrieve something unpleasant. The issue or repressed memories and sexual abuse:
in the 1990s there was a “rash” of accusations concerning repressed sexual
abuse by coaches, priests and teachers.
Elicited in psychotherapy
o different from not telling about abuse because of fear
The number reported since the 1990s has dropped.
So what can we believe?
When someone claims to remember something that was “repressed look for
Medical records, school reports
If there is not evidence from that time when we should probably be skeptical
o Skeptical if they say it was daily abuse for 15 years without anyone
People are affected by the news and confabulation often occurs.
o The inability to remember events an experiences that occurred during the
first two or three years of life.
o We all retain procedural and semantic memories (walking, counting)
o 2 year olds remember what they did the day before
o but from childhood on we are bad at remembering episodes from infancy.
Memory and narrative:
o Narratives we compose, simply, and make sense of our lives; profound
influence on our plans, memories, love affairs, hatreds, ambitions, and
o Memories reconstructed according to culture, and present needs, beliefs,
o Central themes may serve as cognitive schemas.
Why infantile amnesia?
o Prefrontal cortex develops in the first three years
o Before it develops we cant focus o Cant focus, cant encode
o The sense of self (age 2)
o No cognitive schemas that help us remember
o Less verbal skills which hinders later recall.
o Infants don’t know what is important or distinctive about an event
Don’t recall “get” Christmas or birthdays even
o Focus on the routines to learn them
o Later when asked about specific events they just wont have been paying
Salient: you are more likely to remember information that is important to you. Chapter 10 1/17/2013 10:53:00 AM
Reconstructing the Past:
Memory refers to the capacity to retain and retrieve information, and also to the
structures that account or this capacity.
Memory also endows us with a sense of personal identity each of us is the sum of
our recollections,, which is when we feel so threaten when others challenge our
The Manufacture of Memory:
Not everything that happens to us or impinges on our senses is tucked away for
later use. Memory is selective.
We may reproduce some kinds of simple information by tore, but when we
remember complex information, we typically alter it in ways that help us make
sense of the material, based on what we already know or think we know.
Source Misattribution: the inability to distinguish an actual memory of an
event from information you learned about the event elsewhere.
The Conditions of Confabulation:
Confabulation: confusion of an event that happened to someone else with one
that happened to you, or a belief that you remember something when it never
Confabulations are especially likely under certain circumstances:
o You have thought, heard, or told others about the imagined event many
o The image of the event contains lots of details that make it feel real.
o The event it easy to imagine.
Inaccuracies in memory can occur when you first form a memory. This means
that your feelings about an event, no matter how strong hey are, do not
guarantee that the event really happened.
Memory and the Power of Suggestion:
The reconstructive nature of memory helps the mind work efficiently. Instead of
cramming our brains with infinite details, we can store the essentials of an
experience and then use our knowledge of the world to figure out the specifics
when we need them. In Pursuit of Memory:
Explicit Memory: conscious, intentional recollection of an event or an item of
It is usually measured using one of two methods:
o The first method tests for recall, the ability to retrieve and reproduce
information encountered earlier. Easy fill in the blank exams require
o The second method tests for recognition, the ability to identify
information you have previously observed, read, or heard about. The
information is given to you and all you have to say is whether it is old or
new, or perhaps correct or incorrect. True/False and multiple choice tests
call for recognition.
Implicit Memory: unconscious retention in memory, as evidence by the effect of
a previous experience of previously encountered information on current
thoughts or actions.
To get at this subtle sort of memory, researchers must rely on indirect methods
instead of the direct ones used to measure explicit memories.
o One common method, priming, asks you to read or listen to some
information and then tests you later to see whether the information
affects your performance on another type of task.
Relearning Method: a method for measuring retention that compares the time
required to relearn material with the time used in the initial learning of the
Models of Memory:
Many cognitive psychologists liken the mind to an information processor, along
the lines of a computer, though more complex.
We encode information
o Convert it to a form that the brain can process and use.
Store the information
o Retain it over time
And retrieve the information
o Recover it for use.
In storage, the information may be represented as concepts, propositions,