7.1 What is memory?
Memory: nervous system’s capacity to acquire, retain skills, knowledge, lets us to take info from experiences,
store for retrieval later. Altered during recollection, not all equally likely to be remembered. Identity consists
of memories, often incomplete, biased, distorted. Each memory system has its own rules.
Memory is processing of info: encoding: processing of info to be stored. Storage: retention of coded
representation, corresponds to change in nervous system. Retrieval: recall/remembering stored info.
Memory is result of brain activity
o Memory’s physical locations: engram: where memory lives. Size more important than location for
retentionmemory distributed in brain, not confined (equipotentiality). Neurons fire together, wire
together, learning leaves biological trails in brain. Specialization: regions in temporal lobes such as
hippocampus (spatial memory) important for storing new memories, being able to say what you
remember, less important for motor learning, classical conditioning. Cerebellum plays role in how
motor actions are learned, remembered. Amygdala important for fear learning. Prefrontal cortex –
working memory – rehearsal; temporal lobe, declarative memory.
o Consolidation: immediate memories become lasting/long-term. Medial temporal lobes coordinate,
strength connections among neurons when something is learned, form links between storage sites.
Once connections strengthened, medial temporal lobes become less important. Aided by sleep.
o Reconsolidation: memories recalled, stored again for later retrieval. Newly consolidated memories
differ from original version. Using extinction during period when memories are susceptible to
reconsolidation can be effective method of altering bad memories.
7.2 How does attention determine what we remember? person must attend: ability to focus on certain stimuli
visual attention works selectively, serially: we automatically identify “primitive” features in environment
(color, shape, size, orientation, movement); separate systems analyze different visual features of objects.
Parallel processing: processing multiple types of info at same time. Searching for 2 features is serial (need to
look at stimuli one at time), effortful (requires attention, time)
auditory attention allows us to listen selectively: hard to perform two tasks if they rely on same sensory/mental
mechanisms. Talking on cell phone affects driving. Cocktail party phenomenon.
Through selective attention, we filter incoming info: filter theory explains attention’s selective nature. People
have limited capacity for sensory info, we screen incoming info to let in only most important– attention is like
gate, opens/closes for important info. Faces are stimuli, capture attention b/c they provide important info, esp.
threats. Change blindness: failure to notice large changes in environment.
7.3 How are memories maintained over time? alternate model: sensory, short-term, and long-term memory
Sensory memory: briefly stores sensory info close to original form. Visual memory is 1/3 second, then fades
Working memory is active: info passed from sensory to short-term: briefly holds limited amount of info in
awareness. Working memory: active processing system, keeps different types of info available to use, 20-30
seconds. Working memory updated to get new info via retrieval, transformation, substitution.
o Memory span and chunking: working memory usually holds 7 items (memory span). Chunking:
organizing info into meaningful units to make it easier to remember.
Long term memory is relatively permanent storage of info:
o long-term vs. working memory: longer duration, greater capacity. Serial position effect: ability to
recall items from list depends on order, early (primacy) or late (recency)
o What gets into long-term memory: repeatedly retrieved, deeply processed, helps adapt to environment.
7.4 How is info organized in long-term memory?
Long-term storage based on meaning: levels of processing model based on depth of elaboration: deeply
encodedbetter remembered. Maintenance rehearsal: repeating over and over, Elaborative: meaningfully.
Types of encoding: visual/acoustic/semantic (how word looks, sounds means)
Schemas cognitive structures that provide organizational framework, help perceive, organize, process, use
info. As we sort out incoming info, schemas guide our attention to environment’s relevant features. Shaped by
culture, influence memory
Info stored in association networks: model where item’s features are linked to identify it. Each unit of info in
network is node connected to other nodes. When you look at fire engine, all nodes representing its features
activated. Activating one node increases likelihood that associated nodes will also be