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PSYC1000 - Module 23

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University of Guelph
PSYC 1000
Harvey Marmurek

Course: PSYC*1000 (DE) Professor: Harvey Marmurek Schedule: Summer, 2012 Textbook: Psychology – Tenth Edition in Modules authored by David G. Myers Textbook ISBN: 9781464102615 Module 23: Studying and Building Memories Studying Memory What is memory? Memory is learning that has persisted over time, information that has been stored and can be retrieved. To a psychologist, evidence that learning persists takes three forms: • Recall – retrieving information that is not currently in your conscious awareness but that was learned at an earlier time. A fill-in-the-blank question tests your recall. • Recognition – identifying items previously learned. A multiple-choice question tests your recognition. • Relearning – learning something more quickly when you learn it a second or later time. When you study for a final exam or engage a language used in early childhood, you will relearn the material more easily than you did initially. Measures of Retention What are three measures of retention? Recall, recognition, and relearning speed are three ways that psychologists measure retention of memories. Can recognize more than we can recall. Our speed at relearning also reveals memories. German philosopher Hermann Ebbinghaus used nonsense syllables. Tests of recognition and of time spent relearning demonstrate that we remember more than we can recall. If you want to be sure to remember what you’re learning for an upcoming test, would it be better to use recall or recognition to check your memory? Why? It would be better to test your memory with recall (such as with short-answer or fill-in-the-blank self-test questions) rather than recognition (such as with multiple-choice questions). Recalling information is harder than recognizing it, so if you can recall it means your retention of the material is better than if you could only recognize it, and your chances of test success are therefore greater. Memory Models How do psychologists describe the human memory system? Information–processing models are analogies that compare human memory to a computer’s operations. Thus, to remember any event, we must: • Get information into our brain, a process called encoding. • Retain that information, a process called storage. • Later get the information back out, a process called retrieval. Our dual-track brain processes many things simultaneously (some of them unconsciously) by means of parallel processing. To focus on this complex, simultaneous processing, one information-processing model, connectionism, views memories as products of interconnected neural networks. Specific memories arise from particular activation patterns within these networks. Every time you learn something new, your brain’s neural connections change, forming and strengthening pathways that allow you to interact and learn from your constantly changing environment. To explain our memory-forming process, Richard Atkinson and Richard Shiffrin proposed a three-stage model. 1. We first record to-be-remembered information as a fleeting sensory memory. 2. From there, we process information into short-term memory. 3. Finally information moves into long-term memory for later retrieval. Other psychologists have updated this mode to include important newer concepts including working memory and automatic processing. Automatic Processing External Events  Sensory Memory – attention to important or novel information (encoding)  working/short-term memory (maintenance rehearsal) – encoding – retrieving  long-term memory storage A modified here-stage processing model of memory – Atkinson and Shiffrin’s classic three-step model helps us to think about how memories are processed, but today’s researchers recognize other ways long-term memories form. Such much active processing occurs in the short-term memory stage that many now prefer the term working memory. Working Memory Alan Baddeley and others challenged Atkinson and Shiffrin’s view of short-term memory as a small, brief storage space for recent thoughts and experiences. Not just a temporary shelf for holding incoming info, but an active desktop where your brain processes information, making sense of new input and linking it with long-term memories. Auditory rehearsal   Central executive (focuses attention)   visual-spatial information | both ways - long-term memory | Alan Baddeley’s model of working memory, simplified here, includes visual and auditory rehearsal of new information. A hypothetical central executive (manager) focuses attention and pulls information from long-term memory to help make sense of new information. Without focused attention, information often fades. Dual-Track Memory: Effortful Versus Automatic Processing How are explicit and implicit memories distinguished? Atkinson and Shiffrin’s model focused on how we process our explicit memories – the facts and experiences that we can consciously know and declare. But our mind operates on two tracks. It processes explicit memories through conscious, effortful processing. But behind the scenes, outside the Atkinson-Shiffrin stages, other information skips our conscious encoding and barges directly into storage. The automatic processing, which happens without our awareness, produces implicit memories. The two-track memory system reinforces an important principle of parallel processing: Mental feats such as vision thinking, and memory may seem to be single abilities, but they are not. Rather, we split information into different components for separate and simultaneous processing What two new concepts update the classic Atkinson-Shffrin three-stage information-processing model? (1) We form some memories (implicit memories) through automatic processing, without our awareness. The Atkinson-Shiffrin model focused only on conscious, explicit memories. (2) The newer concept of a working memory emphasizes the active processing that we now know takes place in Atkinson-Shiffrin’s short-term memory stage. What are two basic functions of working memory? (1) Active processing of incoming visual and auditory information, and (2) focusing our spotlight of attention. Building Memories Encoding and Automatic Processing What information do we automatically process? Our implicit memories include procedural memory for automatic skills. Without conscious effort you also automatically process information about: space, time, frequency Encoding and Effortful Processing Sensory Memory How does sensory memory work? Effortful processing begins with sensory memory, which feeds our active working memory. Sensory memory records a momentary image of a scene or an echo of a sound. George Sperl
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