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Semantic Memory.docx

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PSYC 2650
Dan Meegan

Semantic Memory 10/11/2012 6:56:00 AM Semantic Memory  Extracted meaning from something and stored in memory o What is important about those memories is the meaning of the object / individual not when or where you learned it o Semantic memory is different in individuals (two things that are associated for one person might not be associated with each other for another individual and our connections between nodes are different strengths)  Episodic memory trace includes details about when and where you learned something Organization of Semantic Memory:  Semantic memory works as network (neural networks, have similar properties that neurons are connected in the brain)  Individual concepts represented as “nodes” in a memory network o E.g. birds  Concepts / nodes that are semantically associated are interconnected (associative links) o E.g. birds  robin and eagle and loon etc. o Learning is building these associative links o Some links are more effective than others at carrying the activation  Degree of semantic relatedness between two concepts is represented by the strength of the interconnection between their nodes o E.g. see more loons and eagles at cottage than robins therefore relationship between loons and eagles is stronger o E.g. Which is the most bird like? Robins? Then robins and birds node is a stronger connection  Some concepts are more representative of a category than others therefore take less time to activate (a robin is a bird vs. a peacock is a bird)  Both are direct links but peacock would take longer  Strength of connections also differs between individuals (differences in experiences) o Thinking about material in several different ways will create multiple connections, each of which can later be used as retrieval path o Also helps if you think of material in distinctive ways (more distinct, easier to remember)  Hebb‟s Law: neurons that wire together fire together o In example, if loon was activated, eagles would be more activated than robins (given relationships stated above) Spreading Activation  When one concept is activated, the activation “spreads” to other concepts whose nodes have strong interconnections with the activated node o Free association tasks  activating semantic memory by saying word and then “tell me what 4 words come to mind when I say this word?” and what you are telling experimenter you are thinking about is often the nodes that are being activated  Eventually node will reach response threshold and fires o Multiple effects: it too becomes an concept activated and activates the nodes it is associated with, summons attention to that node o Subthreshold activation: activation levels below response threshold  Subthresholds added together might summate and bring node to threshold  If node has been activated recently, it is already “warmed up” and thus even a small activation can help it reach its threshold  You do not choose at all, spreading activation starts at one point and spreads out in all directions spontaneously Evidence for Network Organization: Semantic Priming  Hints o Mention of hint will activate nodes in memory that represent concept and will spread to knowledge you want to remember o If not, a second hint will hopefully activate that particular node again simultaneously and it will grab your attention  Context Reinstatement o E.g. being underwater when learning words, better recall when underwater again  Being underwater will activate certain thoughts and the nodes representing these thoughts that you also had during encoding thus they are likely connected to the material to be remembered  Lexical (Word) Decision task: o Lexicon  vocabulary o Given two letter-strings shown in succession  Some words, some non-words o Are both strings of words? Y or N  Y both letter strings were words  N for everything else (2 non words, 1 word and 1 non word)  Forces you to process information o First word is prime word (purpose to activate a network) o Presenting the first word see how it effects how fast we process the second word  If in network, we are primed for second word and thus it is already activated and will process second word faster  940 msec. vs. 855 msec. o How much time it takes us to make a lexical decision based on prime word (mental chronometry task)  Sentence Verification o Participants were shown list of sentences, some were true some were false o Had to decide if true or false and press button accordingly o E.g. A robin is a bird  Robin is activated and there is an associative link between robin and bird thus this sentence must be true  Requires little time if two concepts are directly associated vs. having to „travel‟ along 2 associative links  E.g. A robin is an animal (robin  bird  animal) o More efficient to have “have a heart” associated with animals than with every single animal individually  Would suggest that “cats have a heart” would take longer to activate than “cats have claws”  Principle of redundancy does not always hold (birds have feathers  penguin is bird but does not have feathers)  People respond faster to “peacocks have feathers” because of predominant tail feathers Limits of Spread Activation  Activated nodes have a fixed capacity for emitting activation (finite)  Thus the more interconnections that a node has, the less activation that will spread to any interconnected node (less likely it is to activate nodes) o And the slower the search for the memory will be  When we activate robin, has to spread activation around o High degree of fan  When we activate aardvark, fewer concepts therefore more likely to receive higher activation o Low degree of fan  Going to affect speed in which you get access to related concepts, NOT whether the related concepts are true (just because aardvark activates has legs more than robin would, does not mean that an
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