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Ecology & Evolutionary Biology

Chapter 7 Review Key Terms from Lecture Autobiographical memory – Type of memory for information related to oneself. It involves both episodic and semantic memories. Personal semantics – Memory for facts related to oneself such as where one was born, what kind of car one drives, how many cousins one has, etc. Self-schema – Refers to general characteristics related to oneself such as likes and dislikes. Diary method – Method using cues taken from diary entries to study autobiographical memories. Memory probe methods – Methods involving cues to elicit autobiographical memories for study. Autobiographical knowledge base – facts about ourselves and our past that form the basis for autobiographical memory. Experienced self – the “me.” Working self – our self-schema or knowledge of oneself that is constantly being updated by goals and new experiences. Infantile amnesia – Refers to the phenomena that people tend to recall relatively few memories from the first 2 to 5 years of life. Reminiscence bump – Phrase coined by Rubin, Wetzler, and Nebes (1986) to describe the observation that people over the age of 40 tend to report more memories from the ages of 15 – 30 years than other periods in their past. Life narrative – A coherent account of who we are and how we got here that is built up through life. Flashbulb memory – A special case of autobiographical memory for major events with an exceptional level of vividness and detail. Repression – Active forgetting for psychological reasons. Functional amnesia – The loss of memory for past events when there is no biological evidence leading to the loss. Examples include psychogenic fugue and psychogenic amnesia. Situation-specific amnesia – forgetting of a single, specific event. Psychogenic fugue – Case of memory loss in which almost all memories of one’s personal past is lost. Psychogenic amnesia – Refers to the inability to recall the time period around an anxiety- provoking event. Key Concepts from Lecture 1. Characteristics of autobiographical memories: a. Depends on both episodic and semantic memory systems. b. Involves personal semantics – Memory for facts related to oneself such as birthdate, birthplace, etc. c. Involves self-schema – General characteristics related to oneself such as likes and dislikes. d. Autobiographical memories play a unique role in our lives; they define oneself. e. Autobiographical memories are difficult to study experimentally because the experimenter lacks control over the learning situations. 2. Functions of autobiographical memories (Williams, Conway, & Cohen, 2008): a. Directive functions – using past experiences to solve problems. b. Social functions – bonding people together or separating them. c. Self-representational functions – creating and maintaining our self-image. d. Coping with adversity – remembering happier times during difficult times to help cope with the situation; remembering previous successes in coping with past adversity. 3. Overlapping functions of autobiographical memories – findings from Bluck et al.’s (2005) Thinking About Life Experiences (TALE) Questionnaire: a. Autobiographical memories serve a variety of overlapping purposes, including: i. Directive functions ii. Self-related functions – building a self-image iii. Nurturing existing relationships iv. Developing new social relationships 4. Methods for studying autobiographical memory a. Diary method i. Participants record events in a diary at set intervals and memories for those events are tested. Examples of testing methods: 1. Ask participants to put the events in chronological order (e.g., Linton, 1975). 2. Ask participants to recall past episodes from cues based on actual diary entries (e.g., Wagenaar, 1986). Wagenaar (1986) found that manipulating the number of types of cues he provided to himself affected his ability to remember events. a. Who, what, and where cues were equally effective in prompting a memory. b. When cues by themselves were less efficient. c. Although the recall task was often difficult and unpleasant, he found that he was able to eventually recall most events with the right cues and with the help of others involved. b. Memory probe methods, e.g., Crovitz and Shiffman (1974): i. Cue-word method – Ask participants to recall an autobiographical memory related to a presented cue word. For example, words such as “invitation,” “holiday,” “funeral,” etc. may be presented and the participant responds with specific autobiographical memories. ii. Time-period cueing – Ask participants to remember something that happened to them during a particular time period. For example, asking participants to recall memories from high school, college, etc. 1. People are bad at recalling memories based on temporal cues, especially when there are multiple events clustered around the same time period. c. Count the number of memories and examine their quality such as characteristics, details, accuracy (if possible, for example, check with a spouse), etc. 5. Conway’s (2005) theory of autobiographical memory: The Autobiographical Knowledge Base a. A system that retains knowledge concerning the experienced self, i.e., the “me,” consisting of and based on the interactions between: i. Autobiographical knowledge base – a series of episodes that are important to our life history. ii. The working self – consists of our self-schema or knowledge of oneself, personal details, and future goals. It is constantly being updated by goals and new experiences. It is also shaped by one’s family background, peers, myths, and stereotypes. 6. Periods of relative lack or abundance of memories a. Infantile amnesia – The phenomena that people tend to recall relatively few memories from the first 2 to 5 years of life. i. Possible reasons for infantile amnesia: 1. Underdeveloped hippocampus (a structure shown to be important for memory storage and retrieval). 2. Underdeveloped sense of self. 3. Freudian repression? b. Reminiscence bump (Rubin, Wetzler, & Nebes, 1986) - Perhaps there is a bias in reporting more memories from this period because they think about this period more often? - In other words, it may be that people are reporting more from this time period rather than more memories being “remembered” from this time period. - The life narrative (Gluck & Bluck, 2007) i. A coherent account of who we are and how we got here that is built up through life. ii. Involves a schema or set of milestones that define “what is supposed to happen in your life.” For example, age of first love, marriage, job promotion, etc. Bernsten and Rubin (2004) noticed that most of these events occur during the reminiscence bump.
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