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Chapter 5

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University of Alberta
Blaine Mullins

Chapter 5 – Memory Traces and Schemas What is Memory? Case Study: Picking Cotton - Woman picked the wrong guy as the one who raped her from a suspect lineup it was actually committed by a guy who looked similar and was in jail - Eyewitnesses are often mistaken - Memory isn’t like a video camera  it captures the gist and fills in missing info. using existing schemas - Memory: the ability to encode (get in), store (stay in), and retrieve information (get out – implicit or explicitly) » Has passive and active components » Involved in learning when you learn something, it is stored in your memory » Allows us to operate in the present (using memories of the past) » Allows us to plan for the future (what you’ve already done vs. what needs to be done) - Tests for memories: free recall, cued recall and recognition tests Schema-based Theories of Memory - Schemas are what we expect to find in the world and help us organize the info. we receive - Mystic writing pad model: tablets retains fragments of old messages even after they are erased (Freud) » Perception is transitory changes from one experience to the next (clear plastic overlay) » Memory is the after effect of perception (the outline left on the wax paper) » Over time, these fragments accumulate and overlap and become harder to read » As a result, we use inferences to make conclusions about what a memory means » Problem: schemas are usually very well organized and memories are unlikely to be made of fragments - Memory is like a camera exact recording in your mind - Reappearance hypothesis: memory can reappear over and over again (Neisser) » Memories are like re-experiencing the past (explains PTSD) » If we don’t have complete copies of memories, then we rely on fragments to recreate them - Memory trace: video recording that can be preserved forever and replayed over and over again memory is like a camera » Reappearance hypothesis: same memory can reappear, unchanged over and over again - Memory schema: relies on fragments to support new constructions Two Approaches to Memory Research - Lab-based approach: emphasizes controlled lab research and has internal validity » Ebbinghaus studied nonsense syllables (consonant-vowel-consonant) until he had the list memorized and then he determined how long it took him to relearn the list after certain time intervals » Forgetting curve: memory loss was greatest immediately after learning but then the rate of decline became more gradual and eventually plateaued » Jost’s law of forgetting: younger memory traces are forgotten before older ones  Over time, memories become more resistant to interference » Robit’s law of retrograde amnesia: older memories are less likely to be lost due to brain damage (ex. Alzheimer’s) » Law of progressions/pathologies: last memory to develop is the first one to decay (last in, first out) - Ecological approach: emphasizes real world functions and has external validity » Focus on everyday life and natural settings sacrifice environmental control » Ex. flashbulb memories » Children/clock checking children check the clock more often in the real world when they are baking than in a lab setting » Bahrick/school learning: studied how long information is retained after school is over  Asked subjects how many Spanish courses they took and how often they used Spanish outside of school  Tested them on reading comprehension tests  Determined that there is a sharp drop in knowledge in the first 6 years but in the next 25 years, there is a plateau and no loss of knowledge same graph for everyone regardless of how long they studied Spanish  Permastone: memories are stored here for a long period of time  Long term algebra knowledge was determined by subsequent exposure to it (reinforces and consolidates learning)  If info. is spread over longer periods of time, it is more likely to be remembered (ex. taking several courses over a long period of time) grades don’t matter Modal Model - History: » Memories were thought of as learned associations » Ebbinghaus forgetting curve studied long term memory » Thorndike and operate learning if we practice something, we remember it but if we stop using it, we forget » McGeoch  time doesn’t cause you to forget memories, events that occur during this time do » Computers » Peterson/Peterson: studied memory that wasn’t rehearsed decayed quickly (no plateau)  Contradicts Ebbinghaus’ curve because they studied short term memories » Kepel/Underwood: we forget things because of interference  Memory is higher for items at the beginning of the list - Modal model: characteristics of memory depend on the location/structure - Input Sensory Memory (last 18 sec) Short Term Memory Rehearsal Long Term Memory » Info. can be lost at any stage of the model » » Tip of the tongue phenomenon exists when you can’t get memory from long term to short term » Each stage corresponds to a different structure » We can control memory if we rehearse it, it will be stored in long term memory » We are not passive receivers what we do with memory determines how long we remember it Levels of Processing - Early models of memory focused on structure of cognition rather than processes (ex. Waugh/Norman) » Didn’t determine which info. will be remembered - Depth: the meaningfulness extracted from the stimulus » It is harder to remember unrelated items (ex. digits) - Levels of processing: continuum that ranges from shallow to deep levels » Shallow: easily forgotten  Structural processing: physical characteristics (ex. colour, all capital letters)  Phonemic: the sounds involved » Deep/semantic: understanding meaning or analyzing it in terms of relationships to others things you know (ex. mode of transportation)  More deeply you process something, the more likely you are to remember it » Latency and recognition increases with depth of processing - Distinctness: precision with which an item is coded (ex. fruit vs. vegetable is more precise than just food) » More distinctly an item is elaborated, the better it is remembered (academically successful students use info. more precisely by filling in the sentence with an idea connected to the rest of the sentence) » Pro actors don’t simply remember lines, they elaborate on material and consider the characters perspective and motivation - Means of rehearsal: » Maintenance: keep repeating the same thing over and over again (modal model) » Elaboration: adding or enriching info. by relating it others (focus on meaning) stronger memory trace - Specific and general levels of representation: as people age, they forget specific details (names, who they told the story to) but remember deeper, more general meaning (who the person was or the significance of the story) - No region in the brain where memories are stored different parts of the brain are active when the event is recalled (ex. if you saw a picture, the visual cortex is activated) - Ways to use level of processing to study: put info. into your own words, study in a particular location and use imagery - Problems: » Doesn’t explain how the processes work (just describes them) » Deeper processing also requires more effort (confounding variable)  more effort may cause you to remember better » Too vague (no way to measure depth of meaning) Sensory Memory - Span of apprehension: amount of info. that can enter the consciousness at once (Jevons) » Spilled beans on a tray and guessed the number correctly 50% of the time up to 9 beans with just a glance - Sperling: » Whole/full report: showed 12 letters for 50ms  correctly identified 33%  While we are recalling some letters, the memory of the other letters decays quickly » Partial report: showed 12 letters for 50ms but asked them to indicate the letters in a specific row (arrow appears next to the row they were asked to identify after the letters disappeared) correctly identified 75% » Delayed partial report: showed 12 letters for 50ms and then a 1 second delay correctly identified 25% - Sensory memory: » Collects info. from the external world fragile and can decay quickly » Holds info. in order to process it » Fills in missing gaps » Provides a sense of continuity so that when you blink, you don’t miss something Short Term Memory - Short term memory: keeps small amount of info. for brief periods of time (18-20 sec) » Contains different kinds of representations (visual, auditory, semantic) - Digit span task: ask people to remember digits and increase the number of digits until they can’t remember them anymore » Miller found that STM can hold 7±2 bits of info. » Luck/Vogel did a similar experiment for people’s ability to notice if a square changed colour found that STM can hold up to 4 squares info. - Chunking: chunks info. that is strongly related to one another » STM can be active after training, people can remember 80 numbers because they chunk numbers together to form years, time it took to complete a marathon etc. » Expert chess players can remember the positions of pieces on a board better than novices only if the pieces are arranged as a game if pieces were arranged randomly, experts did just as good as novices Working Memory - Working memory: temp. storage and manipulation of info. involves in many cognitive processes (pulls other memories together) » Actively rehearses, elaborates, searches and compares info. limited capacity but fast access to long term memory » Only activated momentarily » Right hemisphere = spatial tasks » Left hemisphere = verbal tasks  Parietal lobe is involved in maintenance  Prefrontal lobe is involved in subvocal rehearsal (repeating things to yourself) - Baddeley’s Old Model: » Fluid systems: processes that manipulate info. unchanged by learning » Crystallized systems: accumulate long term knowledge more involved in storage of info. » Central executive: coordinates info. among 3 subsystems  selects and integrates info.  Allocates resources involved in problem solving  Hard to generate random numbers when trying to solve a problem  Dysexecutive syndrome: prefrontal damage causes problems in decision making and problem solving » Phonological loop: hold auditory info. linguistically encoded knowledge (temp. storage and rehearsing of language  Articulatory rehearsal: recycles auditory connection (ex. trying to remember someone’s name)  Phonological similarity effect: people confuse letters that sound similar even when they don’t look similar  Articulatory suppression: repeating syllables (da, da) out loud makes it hard to remember a list of words  Word length effect: we remember shorter words better than longer words » Visuo-spatial sketchpad: draws on imagery (non-verbal general language)  Facilitates representation of things and aids in tasks (ex. planning a route)  Mental rotation: the more you rotate a shape, the harder it is to recognize  Doing two visual tasks is harder than 1 visual and 1 auditory - Baddeley’s New Model: added an extra system » Episodic buffer: moves info. to and from episodic and long term memory  Stores info. in multidimensional ways (visual and auditory)  Binds/links info. to provide coherence and structure  Associated with consciousness  Problem: too general (hard to test) - Dorsolateral prefrontal cortex (DLPFC): involved in selecting between alternative response tendencies and involved in working memory (central executive) Trace Theory - Now Print! Theory: significant memories are immediately photocopied and preserved in LTM - Flashbulb memories: vivid, detailed memories of significant events (Brown and Kulik) » People remember where they were, what they were doing, the person who told them, their affect and aftermath » Strength of flashbulb memories depends on surprissingness (extraordinary event) and consequentiality » Require rehearsal and retelling to others » McCloskey: studied immediate recollection versus months later of Challenger explosion led to loss of some memories, inconsistency, some aspects of memory became more general (from specific name to just friend) » Talarico/Rubin: studied 9/11 attacks recollection and found that flashbulb memories are no more accurate than ordinary memories » They are easier to recall because we’ve thought about them so much - Consolidation theory: memory traces are not formed immediately after the event take some time to consolidate (Woodworth) » Retrograde interference: a later event can cause decreased recall of 1 event because it draws on resources needed to consolidate the first event » Hippocampus: involved in consolidation of memory traces converts immediate memory into long term memories » Reconsolidation: when a memory is recalled, it is placed in working memory where it can come into contact with other memories and be revised (occurs in the hippocampus) as a result, a memory trace doesn’t represent the original experience » Nader: memories are dynamic and are always changing - Method of repeated reproduction: person reads a story and is asked to recall it at different time intervals (Bartlett) - Method of serial reproduction: one person reads a story, writes what they remember and another person reads it and so on (like the telephone game) – (Barlett) » Stories are simplified successive reproductions become more and more different from original » Rationalization: attempt to make memory coherent and sensible if material doesn’t fit with the story, it is dropped » Unfamiliar material is transformed to conform to familiar
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