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Chapter 7

Chapter 7 - Human Memory

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PSYC 1001
Elaine Waddington Lamont

Chapter 7 - Human Memory ● Semantic Memory - Memory for general information ● Episodic Memory - Memory for personal events ● Our cognitive system allows us to remember the past, experience the present, and travel forward in time to plan and anticipate things in the future ● Episodic memory affords humans the ability to “time travel” ● There are memory deficits associated with aging ● Psychology 3 Main questions about memory ○ 1. How does information get into memory? Encoding ○ 2. How is information maintained in memory? Storage ○ 3. How is information pulled back out of memory? Retrieval ● Encoding - Involves forming a memory code ○ ex. For a word: how it looks, sounds, meaning, etc ○ Usually requires attention ● Storage - Involves maintaining encoded information in memory over time ● Retrieval - Involves recovering information from memory stores ● Encoding: Getting Information into Memory ○ The Role of Attention ■ Attention - Involves focusing awareness on a narrow range of stimuli or events. Selective attention is critical to everyday functioning ■ A “filter” that screens out most potential stimuli while allowing a select few to pass through into conscious awareness ■ “Cocktail Party Phenomenon”: When at a party where there are many conversations, you pay attention to your conversation and filter out other conversations. But if someone in another conversation mentions your name, you may notice it even though you’ve been ignoring the conversation ● Suggests attention involves late selection based on the meaning of input ■ There is evidence for early, late, and even intermediate selection, suggesting that the location of the attention filter is flexible ■ Selection tends to occur early when we are doing high load tasks that consume most of our attentional capacity ■ Later selection occurs when we are involved in simpler, low load tasks since more capacity is left over to process the meaning of distractions ■ People have trouble trying to focus their attention on 2 or more inputs (ex. listening to 2 conversations) ■ Brain can effectively handle only one attention consuming task at a time, making multitasking hard ■ Effortful Processing - Picking up information because you are intentionally attempting to do so (ex. studying, listening in class, etc) ■ Automatic Processing - Sme information is acquired automatically without you intending to do so (ex. such as frequently used words) ○ Levels of Processing ■ Different rates of forgetting occur because some methods of encoding create more durable memory codes than others ■ 3 progressively deeper levels of verbal processing: structural, phonemic, and semantic encoding ■ Ex. If a word were flashed on a screen ● Structural Encoding - Relatively shallow processing that emphasizes the physical structure of a stimulus (length of word, how it was printed, if there were capital letters, etc) ● Phonemic Encoding - Further analysis than structural, involves naming or saying the words (emphasize on what the word sounds like) ● Semantic Processing - Deeper than phonemic, involves thinking about the objects and actions the word represents (emphasize the meaning of the word) ■ Levels of Processing Theory - Proposes that deeper levels of processing result in longer lasting memory codes ● Results replicated in many studies ○ Enriching Encoding ■ Other types of encoding: elaboration, visual imagery, and self-referent coding ■ Elaboration - Linking a stimulus to other information at the time of encoding ● ex. reading about phobias and linking it to your own fear of spiders ● Differences in elaboration show why varying approaches to semantic processing result in varied amounts of retention ■ Visual Imagery ● Imagery - The creation of visual images to represent the words to be remembered ○ Can be used to enrich encoding but some words are harder to create images for such as truth ■ Objects easier to image than abstract concepts ● Dual Coding Theory - Holds that memory is enhanced by forming semantic and visual codes, since either can lead to recall ■ Self-Referent Encoding - Involves deciding how or whether information is personally relevant ● Storage: Maintaining Information in Memory ○ Information processing theories subdivide memory into 3 seperate memory stores. Most influential model states incoming information passes through 2 temporary storage buffers, the sensory store and short-term store, before it is transferred into the long-term store ○ Sensory Memory - Preserves information in its original sensory form for a brief time, usually only a fraction of a second ■ Allows sensation of visual pattern, sound, or touch to linger for a brief moment ■ After the sensory stimulation is over, people perceive an afterimage rather than the actual stimulus ● ex. rapidly moving a light sparkler in the dark (like at cottage) ■ Does not last long, memory trace in the visual sensory store decays in about a ¼ of a second, audio traces also last less than a second ○ Short-Term Memory (STM) - A limited capacity store that can maintain unrehearsed information for up to about 20 seconds ■ Can maintain information in your short-term store indefinitely through rehearsal ■ Rehearsal - The process of repetitively verbalizing or thinking about the information ● Maintenance Rehearsal - SImply maintaining the information in consciousness ○ ex. looking up a phone number and then reciting it until you dial it ● Elaborative Rehearsal/Processing - Increasing the probability that you will retain the information in the future ○ ex. focusing on the meaning of the words in a list you’re memorizing ● Recycles information through your STM, could go on forever but something usually distracts you ■ Durability of Storage ● Information in STM is lost 20 seconds without rehearsal ● Originally believed the loss of information from STM was purely due to time-related decay of memory traces, but interference from competing material also contributes ■ Capacity of Storage ● STM is limited in the number of items it can hold ● STM capacity could be 4 plus or minus one items, or 7 plus or minus 2 items, depending on the researcher ● Increase STM capacity by combining stimuli into larger, higher order units called chunks ● Chunk - A group of familiar stimuli stored as a single unit ● People draw information from long-term memory to evaluate/understand information being worked on in STM ● Individuals who are experts in a specific area process information related to that expertise differently than non-experts ○ ex. Chess experts memorize positions of pieces on chessboard in a few seconds ■ If pieces were arranged in a meaningful way like a game, experts were better at remembering positions. If pieces are randomly arranged, the expert did no better than a non-expert ■ Encode the positions into larger, perceptual chunks, each consisting of a familiar subconfiguration of pieces ■ Short-Term Memory as “Working Memory” ● Found STM is not limited to phonemic encoding and that decay is not the only process responsible for loss of information in STM ● Working Memory - A limited capacity storage system that temporarily maintains and stores information by providing an interface between perception, memory, and action ● 4 Components of Working Memory: ○ Phonological Loop - Represents all of STM in earlier models. At work when you use recitation to temporarily remember a phone number ○ Visuospatial Sketchpad - Permits people to temporarily hold and manipulate visual images ■ ex. mentally rearranging furniture in your bedroom ○ Central Executive System - Controls the deployment of attention, switching the focus of attention and dividing attention as needed ■ ex. dividing attention between texting and lecture ○ Episodic Buffer - Temporary, limited capacity store that allows various components of working memory to integrate information and serves as an interface between working memory and long-term memory ● Characteristics defined previously in STM are still present in working memory, but this model accounts for the fact STM handles a greater variety of functions than previously thought ● Working Memory Capacity (WMC) - Refers to one’s ability to hold and manipulate information in conscious attention ○ Plays fundamental role in complex cognitive processes and intelligence ○ Long-Term Memory (LTM) - An unlimited capacity store that can hold information for long periods of time ■ LTM can store information indefinitely ■ One view is that information in LTM is permanent, and that forgetting it occurs when the person cannot retrieve it ■ Wilder Penfield said through electric stimulation of the brain, specifically the temporal lobe, elicited long lost memories. (WRONG) ● Turned out to be hallucinations, dreams, or loose reconstructions ■ Flashbulb Memories - Unusually vivid and detailed recollections of momentous events ● ex. people can remember exactly where they were and felt when they heard about 9/11, or Princess Diana’s death ● Represent an instance of permanent storage. Usually vivid ● Like other memories, they become less detailed and complete over time, becoming inaccurate ● Turns out people think they vividly remember more than they do, and they have more emotional intensity attached to them ■ Thus, even though it can’t be ruled out, there’s no evidence that LTMs are permanent ○ How is Knowledge Represented and Organized in Memory? ■ Clustering and Conceptual Hierarchies ● Clustering - The tendency to remember similar or related items in groups ○ When applicable, factual information is organized into simple categories ● Conceptual Hierarchy - A multilevel classification system based on common properties among items ○ Can improve recall dramatically ■ Schemas ● Schema - An organized cluster of knowledge about a particular object or event abstracted from previous experience with the object or event ○ ex. if you look at a picture of a professors office then have to describe it, might say there was a filing cabinet even though there may not have been, because your schema of a professor office influenced memory ● People are more likely to remember things that are consistent with their schemas than things that aren’t ● Sometime people exhibit better recall of things that violate their schema-based expectations ○ ex. seeing a slot machine in the professor’s office ● Relational Schemas - Represent regularities in your interpersonal interactions ○ much in the same way your office schema represents regularities in your exposure to offices ○ affect the way you process information about yourself and others ■ Semantic Networks ● Semantic Network - Consists of nodes representing concepts, joined together by pathways that link related concepts ● The length of each pathway represents the degree of association between 2 concepts, shorter pathways = stronger associations ● Spreading Activation - Process within semantic network where when people think of a word, their thoughts naturally go to related words ○ Strength of this activation decreases as it travels outwards ■ Connectionist Networks & Parallel Distributed Processing (PDP) Models ● Connectionist or Parallel Distributed Processing (PDP) models assume that cognitive processes depend on patterns of activation in highly interconnected computational networks that resemble neural networks ● PDP system consists of a large network of interconnected nodes that operate like neurons. Nodes may be inactive or may send excitatory or inhibitory signals to other nodes ● PDP models assert that specific memories correspond to particular patterns of activation in these networks ● In semantic network each node represents a piece of knowledge, in connectionist network a piece of knowledge is represented as a particular pattern across the network ● Retrieval: Getting Information Out of Memory ○ Availability vs. Accessibility: Might not be able to answer a question because the information is unavailable (no longer in memory system) or unaccessible (present in memory system but not accessible to you at the moment ○ Using Cues to Aid Retrieval ■ Tip-of-the-tongue Phenomenon - The temporary inability to remember something you know , accompanied by a feeling that it’s just unreachable ● occurs more with age ● ex. remember name of historical figure but not what they did ■ Retrieval Cues - Stimuli that help gain access to memories ○ Reinstating the Context of an Event ■ Encoding Specificity Principle - Your memory for information would be better when the conditions during encoding and retrieval were similar ■ Context cues often facilitate the retrieval of information ● ex. being flooded with memories when you return to the house where you grew up ■ Hypnosis used to reinstate context of an event. Found it increases tendency to report incorrect information and are overconfident about their recall of the event ■ Matching a person’s internal state at the time of encoding at the retrieval phase is a special case of encoding specificity principle ● ex. if you encoded information while drunk, your recall should be facilitated by attempting to retrieve the information in similar a state ○ Reconstructing Memories and Misinformation Effect ■ Memories are sketchy reconstructions of the past that may be disto
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