CHAPTER 7 – HUMAN MEMORY
Encoding: involves forming a memory code
Need to pay attention to information to remember it
Attention: involves focusing awareness on a narrowed range of stimuli or events.
Selective attention is critical to everyday functioning.
Attention like a filter that screens out most stimuli and allowing a few to pass into
Cocktail party phenomenon: having a conversation at a party and hearing your name in
someone else’s conversation draws your attention to that even though you weren’t
listening for it suggest late screening selection, based on the meaning of input –
other evidence suggests early or intermediate – attention filter may be flexible.
Depends on cognitive load – when attending to complicated, high-load tasks, selection
occurs early. When are involved in simple low-load tasks, attention screening happens
Levels-of-processing theory proposes that deeper levels of processing result in longer-
lasting memory codes.
o Structural encoding: shallow process that emphasizes the physical structure of
the stimulus (ex. low or upper case letters)
o Phonemic encoding: emphasizes what a word sounds like (ex. naming or saying)
o Semantic: emphasizes the meaning of verbal input, involves thinking about the
objects and actions the words represent.
Elaboration: linking a stimulus to other information at the time of encoding (additional
associations help people to remember info)
Visual imagery can help enrich encoding (high-imagery words are easier to remember)
Dual-coding theory: 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 (promotes additional elaboration and better organization of information if you
can apply it to yourself)
Storage: involves maintaining encoded information in memory over time
Sensory memory: preserves information in its original sensory form for a brief time,
usually only a fraction of a second. Allows the sensation of a visual pattern, sound or
touch to linger for a brief moment after the sensory stimulation is over. (ex. afterimage
Short-term memory: limited-capacity store that can maintain unrehearsed information
for up to 20 seconds
o Keep it here with rehearsal – repetitively verbalizing or thinking about the
o Maintenance rehearsal: keeping in consciousness
o Elaborative processing: increasing probability you will retain the info in the
future o Time-related decay of memory traces and interference from competing material
o Capacity is limited: about 7 items
o Can increase capacity by combining stimuli into larger chunks – group of familiar
stimuli stored as a single unit.
o Often draw from long-term to evaluate and understand info that they are
working with in short-term memory
Working memory: limited capacity storage system that temporarily maintains and
stores information by providing an interface between perception, memory, action.
o Phonological loop: used when you use recitation to temporarily remember
o Visuospatial sketchpad: permits people to temporarily hold and manipulate
visual images. This works when you try to mentally rearrange things or map
o Central executive: controls deployment of attention, switching the focus of
attention and dividing attention as needed, coordinates actions of other
o Episodic buffer: temporary, limited-capacity store that allows the various
components of working memory to integrate information and that serves as n
interface between working memory and long-term memory.
o Two characteristics that originally defined short-term memory (limited capacity
and storage duration) are still present in working memory but this model
accounts for evidence that STM handles a greater variety of functions than
o Working memory capacity: refers to one’s ability to hold and manipulate
information in the conscious attention – variations correlate positively with
measures of high-level cognitive abilities, such as reading comprehension,
complex reasoning, intelligence, role in complex cognitive processes and
Long-term memory: unlimited capacity store that can hold information over lengthy
periods of time.
o One view: permanent storage, forgetting is inability to retrieve
o Flashbulb memories: unusually vivid and detailed recollections of momentous
Clustering: tendency to remember similar or related items in groups
Conceptual hierarchy: multi-level classification system based on common properties
among items. Factual info routinely presented in categories
Schema: organized cluster of knowledge about a particular object or event abstracted
from previous experience with the object or event.
People are more likely to remember things that are consistent with their schemas than
things that are not. Inverse is also true – people sometimes exhibit better recall of
things that violate their schema-based expectations (ex. might be more memorable) Semantic network: consists of nodes representing concepts, joined together by
pathways that link related concepts. The shorter the pathway between each concept is
the closer the association. Explains how one word can make a closely related word
easier to remember (ex. bread, butter). Spreading activation occurs when thoughts
naturally go to related words.
Connectionist/parallel distributed processing models: assume that cognitive processes
depend on patterns of activation in highly interconnected computational networks that
resemble neural networks. Consist of large network of interconnected computing units
(nodes) that operate like neurons, may be inactive or send excitatory or inhibitory
signals to other units. A specific node’s level of activation reflects the weighted balance
of excitatory and inhibitory inputs from many other units. PDP models assert that
specific memories correspond to particular patterns of activation in these networks.
In semantic networks, specific nodes represent specific concepts or pieces of
knowledge. In connectionist networks, a piece of knowledge is represented by a
particular pattern of activation across an entire network. In PDP, information lies in the
strength so the connections.
Retrieval: involves recovering information from memory stores
Tip-of-the-tongue phenomenon: temporary inability to remember something you know,
accompanied by a feeling that it’s just out of reach. Stronger experiences are more likely
to be resolved than weaker ones. It constitutes a failure in retrieval.
Memories can be jogged with retrieval cues – stimuli that help gain access to memories.
Encoding specificity principle: your memory for info would be better when the
conditions during encoding and retrieval were similar. Cues used at retrieval will
facilitate recall if the information about them and about their relation to the to-be-
remembered words is stored at the same time as the to-be-remembered information.
Context cues can facilitate retrieval
Hypnosis increases tendency to report incorrect information
On story recall: Subjects condense story, leaving out boring details. Subjects frequently
changed the tale to some extent (new elements or twists – boat instead of canoe, etc).
Distortions in recall occurred because subjects reconstructed the tale to fit with their
established schemas. Culture, recent experiences, personality differences, familiarity are
Misinformation effect: occurs when participants’ recall of an event they witnessed is
altered by introducing misleading post-event information.
o Stage 1; subjects view an event
o Stage 2: exposed to information about this event, some of which is misleading
o Stage 3: recall of the original event is tested to see if the post-event
misinformation altered their memory of the original event
Reality monitoring: refers to the process of deciding whether memories are based on
external sources (one’s perception of actual events) or internal sources (one’s thoughts
and imaginations) – when they reflect on whether something actually happened or they
only thought about it happening. Source monitoring: involves making attributions about the origins of memory – make
decisions at the time of retrieval about where the memories came from
Source-monitoring error: occurs when a memory derived from one source is
misattributed to another source – commonplace
Destination memory: involves recalling to whom one has told what. Accurate
destination memory is just as important as accurate source monitoring. Destination
memory more fragile because when transmitting information people are self-focused on
their message, leaving less attention capacity to devote to encoding whom one is talking
Can be good: can reduce competition among memories that can cause confusion
Ebbinghaus’s Forgetting Curve: graphs retention and forgetting over time. Shows a drop
in retention during the first few hours after the nonsense syllables were memorized.
Most forgetting occurs very rapidly after learning something.
Retention: refers to the proportion of material retained (remembered)
Retention interval: length of time between the presentation of materials and the
measurement of forgetting.
Recall: measure of retention requires subjects to reproduce information on their own
without any cues.
Recognition: measure of retention requires subjects to select previously learned
information from an array of options.
Recognition > Recall
Relearning: measure of retention requires a subject to memorize information a second
time to determine how much time or how many practice trials are saved by having
learned it before
Pseudo-forgetting: you can’t really forget something you never learned. Usually due to
lack of attention (ex. not being able to identify a fake coin, most of us do not look at
Decay theory: proposes that forgetting occurs because memory traces fade with time.
Decay occurs in the physiological mechanisms responsible for memories. The mere
passage of time produces forgetting. Decay does contribute to loss of info from sensory
and short term memory stores, not LTM. In LTM, time passage isn’t as influential as
what happens during the time interval – the amount, complexity, type of information
that subjects have had to assimilate during the retention interval (interference)
Interference theory: proposes that people forget information because of competiti