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10 Apr 2012
Chapter 7: Human Memory
- Semantic memory: memory for general information
- Episodic memory: memory for personal events
- Encoding:
oInvolves forming a memory code
oE.g. when you form a memory code for a word, you might emphasize how it looks, how it
sounds, or what it means
oEncoding usually requires attention
oAnalogous to entering data using a computer keyboard
- Storage:
oinvolves maintaining encoded information in memory over time
oanalogous to saving data in a file on your computer
oour memories change over time and are rough reconstructions rather than exact copies of
past events
- Retrieval:
oInvolves recovering information from memory stores
oAnalogous to calling up a file and then displaying it on your computer monitor
Encoding: Getting Information into Memory
- Next-in-line effect
oIf participants in a small group take turns speaking to the group, subsequent memory test
reveal that the subject tend to not recall much of what was said just before they took their
Because when participants are next in line to speak, they are too preoccupied
rehearsing to pay attention to what is being said
oNext-in-line effect illustrates that active encoding is a crucial process in memory
The Role of Attention
- You generally need to pay attention to information if you intend to remember it
- Attention:
oInvolves focusing awareness on a narrowed range of stimuli or events
oOften likened to a filter that screens out most potential stimuli while allowing a select few
to pass through into conscious awareness
- Cocktail party phenomenon—suggests that attention involves late selection, based on the
meaning of input
oi.e. stimuli are screened out late, after the brain has processed the meaning or significance
of the input
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- ample evidence have supported both early selection and late selection as well as for intermediate
othese findings have led some theorists to conclude that the location of the attention filter
may be flexible rather than fixed
- Lavie
oThe location of our attention filter depends on the ”cognitive load” of current information
oWhen we are attending to complicated, high-load tasks that consume much of our
attentional capacity, selection tends to occur early
oWhen we are involved in simpler, low-load tasks, more attentional capacity is left over to
process the meaning of distractions, allowing for later selection
- Whenever filtering occurs, it is clear that people have difficulty if they attempt to focus their
attention on two or more inputs simultaneously
- Studies show that when participants are forced to divide their attention between memory
encoding and some other task, large reductions in memory performance are seen
Model of selective attention
- Early-selection models propose that input is filtered before meaning is processed
- Late-selection models hold that filtering occurs after the processing of meaning
- There is evidence to support early, late, and intermediate selection, suggesting that the location
of the attentional filter may not be fixed
Negative impact of divided attention
- Divided attention are not limited to memory
- Divided attention can have a negative impact on the performance of quite a variety of tasks
oEspecially when the tasks are complex or unfamiliar
- Research suggest that the human brain can effectively handle only one attention-consuming task
at a time
- When people multi-task, they are switching their attention back and forth among tasks, rather
that processing them simultaneously
- E.g. research shows that cellphone conversations undermine people’s driving performance—even
when hands-free phones are used—they increase the chances of missing traffic signals and
slowed down reactions to signals that were detected
- Lynn Hasher
oSuggest that though much of the information we want to remember is encoded as a result
of effortful processing, some types of information may be acquired more automatically
oEffortful processing
You are picking up information because you are intentionally attempting to do so
oAutomatic processing
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Information such as frequency of word use—is picked up without you intending to
do so
Levels of Processing
-According to some theorists, differences in how people attend to information are the main factors
influencing how much they remember
- Craik and Lockhart
oDifferent rates of forgetting occurs because some methods of encoding create more
durable memory codes than others
oPropose that incoming information can be processed at different levels
E.g. verbal information—people engage in three progressively deeper levels of
processing: structural, phonemic, and semantic encoding
Structural encoding
Is relatively shallow processing
Emphasizes the physical structure of the stimulus
E.g. if words are flashed on a screen, structural encoding registers such
things as how they were printed (capital letters, lowercase, and so on) or
the length of the words (how many letters)
Phonemic encoding
Emphasizes what a word sounds like
Phonemic encoding involves naming or saying (perhaps silently) the words
Semantic encoding
Emphasizes the meaning of verbal input
Involves thinking about the objects and actions the words represent
- Level-of-processing theory
oProposes that deeper levels of processing result in longer-lasting memory codes
oCritics ask: what exactly is a ‘level’ of processing?
How do we determine whether one level is deeper than another?
oThis theory remain vaguely defined
Enriching Encoding
- Semantic encoding can often be enhanced through a process called elaboration
- Elaboration:
oLinking a stimulus to other information at the time of encoding
oE.g. relating it to personal experiences
oOften consists of thinking of examples that illustrate an idea
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