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Lecture 1

PSYC 3265 Lecture Notes - Lecture 1: Quintilian, Psychophysics, Free Recall


Department
Psychology
Course Code
PSYC 3265
Professor
Shayna Rosenbaum
Lecture
1

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PSYC 3265 Lecture #1
Why Study Memory?
- memory can inuence personality, how we make judgements, past
inuences how we behave in the present/future.
- memory isn’t one thing, memory eects all aspects of our lives (all
elements of cognition)
- memory seen as the fabric of our lives, de"ned by our memories
- to not have memories, can’t re-live cherished past moments, devoid
of emotions that make us who we are
- gives us critical info to function in everyday life
- memory is knowledge
- central to many cognitive abilities (language, problem solving, social
relationships, sharing experiences, communication experiences tie us
to other people and make us who we are)
- ability to remember the past, but does inuence the way we behave
in the present and how we plan for the future
- autobiographical (past) memory related to/inuences ability to
imagine futures
- memory isn’t an exact replica of experience/percepts
- memory is a re-constructive process
- bias to discuss memory systems (remember types of info)  memory
as processes now!
- memory can fail in many ways  insight into idea that memory is re-
constructive and has many inuences
- Bartlett: integrate past knowledge with current experiences when
remembering certain material, memory is fallible
- we mis-remember and mis-attribute to other sources
- state of the art methods aren’t always the best/appropriate way to
answer a speci"c q
Early Philosophers
- memory has been of interest from ancient times to the present
Aristotle
- ideas inuence memory theory until today!
- early attempts to understand memory, he was a "gure who made
attempts.
- described in Treatise “On the Soul”, compared human mind to a blank
slate
- theorized all humans born free of any knowledge and that they are
the sum of their experiences
- memory isn’t innate, we have the capacity to learn info and that
learning/memory are a direct result of experience (tabula rasa)
- compared memory to making impressions in wax (storehouse
metaphor)

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- proposed the
law of Associationism
: 4 sub-laws  memories are
formed by linking info together, dierent ways info can be linked
1. law of contiguity: items/events that occur close together either in
time/space more likely to be remembered/associated together.
ex/ items that are close together in a study list, more likely to be
associated
2. law of frequency: more often 2 events are linked/rehearsed,
association will be more powerful, ex/ repetition: repeat info,
more likely to remember
3. law of similarity: more similar, 1 likely to trigger the memory of
the other
4. law of contrast: see/recall an object, may remind you of an event
that is the complete opposite of it
Roman philosophers
- contributed to understanding of memory: Cicero, Quintilian
- use mnemonics, tricks in memory to help assist memory:
associate/pair new info with what you already know
- ex/ met someone new, remember their name and think of someone
with the same name with their arms around each other OR if the name
is unique, helps with memory
- method of Loci was the focus of their attention: a person imagines the
items they try to remember in speci"c locations within a well-known
place. To retrieve the list, imagine a virtual walk throughout the
building going through all the rooms. Link a new item (word/object)
with a well-known place. Can be used to improve and expand
memories
Ebbinghaus
- 1st person to put these ideas to the test, inuenced by philosophers
and individuals who were involved in psychophysics tests of sensation
(empiricist approach to understand their discipline)
- assumed that memory acquisition involves the formation of new
associations and that these associations would be strengthened by
repetition (test Aristotle’s Laws of Associations)
- de"ned a set of items to be committed to memory w/o any previous
associations (non-sense syllables: 3 letters w/ no previous meaning)
- he was the sole participant in his study
- items were randomly organized; some items could have meaning
imposed on them but the random order would manage this problem
- recall: study a list, then attempt recall w/o cues
- serial recall: recall items in the order they were presented
- recognition: 2+ items, then decided which one was studied
- measure savings: number of repetitions that were required for him to
re-learn the list (after short and long delays/retention intervals from
time of study) as compared to the 1st time the list was learnt
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ex/ 20 trials to learn, 10 to re-memorize = 50% savings (indicates
some residual eect of previous learning)
- most researchers look at how many words are remembered
- method sensitive to memory processes, especially b/c if you don’t
remember 1 items doesn’t mean its stored BUT don’t know where
memory fails (order in list, which speci"c syllable)
- takes less time to re-learn an list of syllables  some retention
- learning curve: better memory of items w/ a greater number of
repetitions, fast at 1st then slower pace. Ability to recall items improved
w/ greater number of repetitions, fast at 1st then more slow, until recall
all words
- forgetting curve: length of time it takes to forget  most soon after
practice, then slower forgetting over time (slope of curve decreased as
time went on). Less items recalled the farther out he was from learning
the list.
- over-learning eect: info is more resistant to forgetting the more that
you learn it (continuously repeat even if 100% correct  more likely
retain info)
- spacing eect (early observation): distributed practice  repetition is
useful, but when repeated and have space b/w repetitions, more likely
to retain the info (more than when massed)
- could only keep 7 items in mind at once  Miller’s idea of the “magic
number
- remote associations: associations strongest b/w temporally
contiguous (position of items in the list) items and become
progressively weaker (items closer in a list more likely to be
associations, even as move farther from the item there can be an
association but its not as strong)
Muller and Pilzecker
- Criticized Ebbinghaus’ methods: Presentation rate wanted as
controlled as it could have been (said 2.5 seconds, but not 100%)
- he created a device to ensure the syllables were presented at a
consistent rate
- Ebbinghaus hard to generalize to other situations BUT showed w/in
himself all the measures and knew the factors that may inuence his
performance (strict habits: slept regularly, ensured had a consistent
diet  knew subject variables could aect memory)
- tried to correct for the confounds w/ previous research
- memory drum: wheel w/ a piece of paper w/ all the syllables printed,
able to move drum at a consistent pace so words presented at a
consistent rate AND speeding  prevent any rehearsal for words seen
earlier in the list
- method of learning that he developed, paired associate test to study
consolidation: study word pairs, then in a test presented w/ 1 and need
to provide the other (cued recall)
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