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MEMORY in adulthood

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Giampaolo Moraglia

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Memory is studied using cross-sectional studies- they compare 20 year olds, with age 65 and
age 85, all at one time.
Some areas of memory decline, others remain stable or they improve. Why there is such a
variation, is a big question.
Memory= very complex: there are three processing operations: encoding, storage, retrieval.
Memory is the largest, oldest, studied area in experimental psychology. As a result, memory
has been categorized in many ways (some may appear to overlap)
Declarative Memory: memory which can be brought to ones mind and declared. Aka non-
Non-declarative memory: memory required to perform activities/ procedures. Aka.
Procedural. Ex. Ride a bike.
WITHIN DECLARATIVE MEMORY: there is an important distinction between:
Semantic: ones knowledge of general facts- doesnt involve remembering time and place in
which the memory was made.
Episodic: information related to a specific time and place.
Implicit: information retrieved without conscious effort: ex. how to start your car.
Explicit: conscious effort is required to retrieve this information. ex. Remember somones
Different storehouses (which hold memory): Sensory, Short term, Long term
Sensory: temporarily holds incoming sensory information (that we hear, see) which is
necessary to extract information.
Short-term: retains currently experienced events, which are rehearsed over and over. Ex.
Remembering where to meet somebody.
Long-term: retains information that is not being rehearsed in consciousness. Ex. Ones
memory of their life 15 years ago.
Retrospective: memory for past events
Prospective: memory needed to perform future actions. Ex. Remember to come to class
next week for a test.

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Encoding: acquiring a memory
Storage: maintaining a memory in the long term memory store
Retrieval: recalling a memory at a later date
Meta-analytical study: a super study- results from many studies that address one topic
(many studies are combined, to create a summary more reliable study, conclusive,
invariant, presents stable findings)
-Most of these studies are cross-sectional studies: different age groups are tested at
the same point in time.
-Cross sectional studies: show a larger age related differences among age groups in
comparison to a longitudinal study: which is when the same group is tested over
years- shows smaller age related differences.
-WHY? COHORT effect: young and old people differ more than just in age, they differ
in terms of education levels, media exposure/influence- may account for differences-
therefore cross sectional studies may be more advantageous.
-Selective Attrition: occurs in longitudinal studies- may explain why differences
between age groups are smaller- when studies extend over a long period of time,
subjects may drop out. Subjects who drop out, normally are less healthy, less
capable, therefore, the study is left with only a sample of capable people from a
population vs. reality which is a population that contains less and more capable
Needs to be consider when studying where the real age related differences
Sensory memory: ex. If we turn a light on and off, the scene is available to us for a
short time, however the image remains in our mind for longer than it physically
appears. Why does the image stay in our mind for a longer duration? It stays long
enough for the nervous system to have time to extract information it needs.
Ex. If images flash on a scene in different batches, and the participant is asked to
determine which image is missing, there is very little difference between old and young
peoples results. Why? If the perception of an image only stayed in our mind for as long as it
is physically present, then one would not be able to figure out what the missing sign is.
However, as long as the interval between the 2 patches of images isnt too long, then one can
still see the full display in their mind, because the first image will stay in the mind while
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