RETRIEVAL HINTS AND CUES
• Any bit of learning might prepare you for some forms of memory retrieval but not others.
o If your learning produces, say, a connection between memory X and memory Y, your thoughts will be guided
toward Y whenever you’re thinking about X. But this memory connection will have no impact if you happen
not to be thinking about X.
• Figure 6.3: Materials learned while on land are best recalled while on land. Materials learned while underwater are
best recalled while underwater. The change in circumstances doesn’t obliterate the benefits of learning (in all
conditions, performance is considerably better than 0%); nonetheless, the differences between conditions are
• In one study, participants learned materials in one room and were tested in a different. Just before testing, the
participants were urged to think about the room in which they had learned. When tested, these participants performed
as well as those participants for whom there was no room change. What seems to matter is not so much the physical
context, but the psychological context.
Changes in One’s Approach to the Memory Materials
• Recall performance is best if someone’s state (internal or external) at the time of testing matches their state at the
time of learning. This pattern shows the benefit of context reinstatement – that is, improved memory performance if
we re-create the context that was in place during learning.
• Table 6.1: The match effect wins over the levels-of-processing effect: “Deep but un-matched (17%) is inferior to “not
so deep, but matched” (26%).
• Encoding specificity: The tendency, when memorizing, to place in memory both the materials to be learned and also
some amount of the context of those materials. As a result, these materials will be recognized as familiar, later on,
only if the materials appear again in a similar context.
o The participants understood the word “jam” as indicating the stuff one makes from berries or grapes. We test
memory by presenting various items and asking whether or not these appeared on the previous list. “Jam” is
presented, but now we arrange the context so that “jam” is understood as in “traffic jam.”
Under these circumstances, people usually will say that the word was not on the previous list. People
are quite likely to remember most of the other words on the list, even though they don’t remember
seeing our test word.
o This label reminds us that what one encodes (i.e. places into memory) is indeed specific – not just the
physical stimulus as it was encountered, but the stimulus together with its context.
• Figure 6.4: First show participants the pattern as a vase on a black background. A few minutes later, prime
participants so that they see two profiles against a white background a. When asked if they have ever seen this figure
before, they assert that they have not seen the figure before.
o What matters for picture memory is the stimulus as understood, not the geometrically defined picture itself. • What happens during learning is the establishment of a memory that can be retrieved in a certain way, from a certain
o If the perspective changes then the original memory may not be retrieved.
DIFFERENT FORMS OF MEMORY TESTING
• Two modes of retrieval – recall and recognition – turn out to be fundamentally different from each other.
• Recall requires memory search, because you have to come up with the sought-after item on your own; you need to
locate that item within memory. As a result, recall depends heavily on memory connections because it is the
connections (serving as retrieval paths) that support the search.
• Recognition also depends on memory search, but unlike recall, it’s not a search for the item to be remembered.