PSYC 2650 Chapter Notes - Chapter 7: Episodic Memory, Spreading Activation, Lexical Decision Task

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16 Nov 2017
Chapter 7 Interconnections between Acquisition and Retrieval
Learning as Preparation for Retrieval
Putting information into long-term memory helps you only if you can retrieve that
information later on
There are different ways to retrieve information from memory
o Try to recall the information a variety of cues may or may not be available
Crucial Role of Retrieval Paths
Connections serve as retrieval paths
o When you want to locate, you travel on those paths moving from one memory to
the next until you reach the target material
Retrieval paths have a start and end point point A to point B
o But what if you want to reach B from somewhere else?
Context-Dependent Learning
Logically we should expect that divers who learn material while underwater will
remember the material best if they’re again underwater at the time of the test
o Setting enables them to use the connections they established earlier
Recall was done best in the setting in which the initial learning took place
What matters though is not the physical context, but the psychological context
o you can get context-dependent learning through a strategy of context
reinstatement a strategy of re-creating the thoughts and feelings of the learning
episode even if, at the time of recall, you’re in a very different place
because what matters is the mental context not the physical environment
Encoding Specificity
The suggestion is what’s preserved in memory is some record of the target material (i.e.
the information your focusing on) and also some record of the connections you
established during learning
Connections change the meaning of what is remembered
Encoding specificity what you encode (i.e. place into memory) is indeed specific not
just the physical stimulus as it was encountered, but the stimulus together with its context
E.g., - what is learned is not just a word; instead, what was learned was the broader,
integrated experience: the word as the perceiver understood it
The Memory Network
Memory is best thought of as a vast network of ideas
Nodes within the network tied to each other via connections we’ll call
associations/associative links
o Think of the nodes as being akin to light bulbs, that can be turned on by incoming
electricity electricity is the associative links
Spreading Activation
Node becoming activated when it has received a strong enough input signal
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Once a node has been activated, it can in turn activate other nodes energy will spread
out from the just-activated node via its associations, and this will activate the nodes
connected to the just-activated node
Nodes receive activation from their neighbours, and as more and more activation arrives
at a particular node, the activation level for that node increases
Eventually the activation level will reach the node’s response threshold
o Once this happens we say that the node fires
o Firing has several effects
The node will now itself be a source of activation sending energy to
neighbours and activating them
Firing of the node will summon attention to that node what it means to
“find” a node within the network
Activation levels below the response threshold sub threshold activation also have
important role to play
o Activation is assumed to accumulate, so that two sub threshold inputs may add
together (or summate) and bring the node to threshold
o If it has been partially activated it is “warmed up” – now even a weak input will
be sufficient enough
The network linking memories together will resemble the other networks, linking
detectors to each other
Basic idea is that activation travels from node to node via the associative links
o As each node becomes activated and fires it serves as a source for further
activation spreading onward through the network
Known as spreading activation
You do not choose the path, activation spreads out from its starting point
in all directions simultaneously, flowing through whatever connections are
in place
Retrieval Cues
Question-plus-hint accomplishes more than the question by itself
If you are asked what the capital of Dakota is, nodes will be activated in your memory
that represent your knowledge about the state (e.g., close to Canada, in the Midwest)
Though, it is possible that there’s only a weak connection between the SOUTH
DAKOTA nodes and the PIERRE nodes (maybe because your not familiar with it)
o Only a trickle of activation will flow into the PIERRE nodes, and the nodes wont
reach the threshold and it will not be “found”
But if a hint is available “South Dakota’s Capital is also a mans name”, this will also
activate the MAN’S NAME node, so activation will spread from this source at the same
time that activation is spreading out from the SOUTH DAKOTA nodes
PIERRE will now receive activation from two sources simultaneously probably enough
to lift the nodes’ activation to threshold levels
Context Reinstatement
Activation is received from not only the nodes representing target material, but also from
the nodes in the context where information was learned
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