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CHP 5. memory traces and schemas .docx

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McGill University
PSYC 213
Jelena Ristic

CHP 5. MEMORY TRACES AND MEMORY SCHEMAS SCHEMA THEORIES OF MEMORY mystic writing pad (Freud) - model of memory based on a children's toy (writing tablet) that allows new messages to be written on one level, while fragments of old messages accumulate on another level. the toy has three layers (black wax, paper, plastic) drawn to attention by Paul & Erdelyi perceptions are transitory o perception = what appears on the tablet's overlay memories are after-effects of perception o memory = the remaining indent on the black wax after the overlay is removed if memory followed the mystic writing pad model => recollection would be reconstruction of the past, extremely prone to error imperfect model; but it helps clairfy the difference between memory traces and memory schemas memory traces - memory as distinct, permanent copies of previous experiences if memory is entirely based on memory traces => remembering would be re-expriencing the past coined the reappearance hypothesis (by Neisser) memory schemas - memory relies on fragments which are used to support a new construction ex. paleontologist trying to reconstruct a dinosaur from a few remaining bone fragments FLASHBULB MEMORIES flashbulb memories - vivid, detailed memories of significant events ex. Brown & Kulik (1977) study on flashbulb memories o asked participants to recall the circumstances during a significant event (President Kennedy's death, aprox. 10 years previous) o results: almost all participants gave detailed memories reports typically contained information on (a) place where they learnt about the event (b) what they were doing at the time of hearing the news (c) the informant (d) affect/ how they felt at the time (e) aftermath/ what they did immediately after receiving the news => stimulus event occurs a. test for critical degree of surprise o too surprising => retrograde amnesia o right amount of surprising => flash bulb memory o no surprise factor => inattention b. test for degree of consequentiality c. flashbulb memory, varying in elaboration d. rehearsals (overt/covert) varying in frequency e. flashbulb accounts, varying in elaboration (for diagram see figure 5.2, p 124) now print theory - a specific process, similar to a xerograph, lays down in memory copies of especially significant experiences focuses on the production of memory Brown & Kulik suggested that with the evolution of external memory aids (ex. books), this type of memory became less useful IS THERE A FLASHBULB MEMORY MECHANISM? Brown & Kulik's experiment was repeated for the Challenger space shuttle explosion (Bohannon et al) data was collected 3 days after the crash, and again 9 months after as memory evolves it becomes less concrete/specific, and more abstract/general o evolution of memory: towards memory schemas (away from memory traces) inconsistencies given 9 months were small reconstructive errors, similar to other memories Weaver & Neisser => flashbulb events are recalled with greater confidence but not greater accuracy (compared to other memories) **support by Weaver's study on 911 Attack: consistency/inconsistency ARE MEMORY TRACES PERMANENT? consolidation theory - memory traces of an event are not fully formed immediately after the event, but take some time to become complete the process of consolidation can be disrupted o retroactive interference - decrease in the recall of one thing experienced, due to the result of a experiencing something else later hippocampus - brain area crucial for consolidation of memory traces reconsolidation - hypothetical process whereby a memory trace is revised and undergoes consolidation again review on memory reconsolidation literature
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