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Chapter 6

Cognition Chapter 6.doc

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University of Guelph
PSYC 2650

Cognition Chapter 6 Learning as Preparation for Retrieval - Why should there be any relationship between the way you put info into memory & the way you retrieve it?  When you are learning, you making connections between the new material & prior memories, which help make the new material “findable” later on – serving as retrieval paths. - What if you had a path that led you from point A to point B? What if you needed to get from point B to somewhere else, or to point B from somewhere far from point A? Context-Dependent Learning - e.g. asked scuba divers to learn various materials; some divers learned on land, while others learned 20 ft. underwater. Half of each group were tested above water & below water. Underwater, if divers are cold, they may form some memory connections between cold thoughts & the material to be learned. Therefore, data show that divers taught on land remember the material better on land, and divers taught underwater recall best underwater.  Same results for students who study in quiet vs. noise. - Same pattern with rooms; but when tested in a different room but told to recall the details/smells/emotions from the initial room right before testing, participants performed as well as those tested in the same room. Therefore what matters is not the physical context but the psychological context. Changes in Your Approach to the Memory Materials - In many settings, recall performance is best if your state at the time of testing matches your state at the time of learning.  Context reinstatement: improved memory performance if we re-create the context that was in place during learning. Only has an effect because it influences how you think about the materials to be remembered; it’s these thoughts & the perspective taken during learning, that matter for memory – not the physical environment per se. - e.g. participants shown word pairs; supposed to use first word as an aid to remember the second. Half of the participants were shown words that related (cat & dog) & the other half were shown rhyming words (cat & hat). At test time, they were given a hint (a retrieval cue) to help them recall each word. In some trials the questions focused on meaning, & in others the cue concerned sound.  Results: thinking about meaning over all led to better memory. If the person thought about meaning at the time of learning, they did better with questions that asked about meaning. If they thought about sound, they did better with questions asking about sound.  ** Therefore, this shows 2 separate influences on memory working at the same time: an advantage for thinking about meaning (overall better for memory) & an advantage for matched learning & test conditions. The advantage for deep processing is overturned in the case of unmatched vs. matched. Encoding Specificity - Scuba diver experiment: didn’t just remember the words, also remembered something about the context in which the learning took place. Of course, if the context had left no trace in memory, there’d be no way for a return to the context to influence the participants later on. - The connections that help you retrieve memories can change the meaning of what is remembered because “memory + this set of connections” has a different meaning from “memory + that set of connections” - Exp: participants read target words (e.g. piano) in 2 contexts (the man lifted the piano/the man tuned the piano); recording it in memory as either an instrument or a heavy object. Later, participants were more likely to remember the word if “lifted” had been used when given the cue “something heavy”, & “something with a nice sound” helped them remember the word if “tuned” had been used  This is called encoding specificity: what you place into memory is specific to the stimulus encountered and the context. - If you’re presented with the stimulus in some other context, you will not be able to match it with anything you have previously learned – which is actually correct (like learning “other” & asked later if you were shown the word “the”)  The word “piano” was contained in what the participants learned (like “the” was contained in “other”), but what was learned was not just the word, it was the broader, integrated experience: the word as it was understood by the perciever. The Memory Network Spreading Activation - Nodes are connected in a network via assocations/associative links (lightbulbs turned on by incoming electricity carried by the wires) - Nodes receive activation from their neighbours, & as more & more activation arrives at a particular node, the activation level rises – eventually reaching its response threshold. At this point the node fires, becoming a source of activation itself & sending energy to activate its neighbours. This firing causes the node to be “found” within the network. - Activation is assumed to accumulate, so that 2 subthreshold inputs may summate & bring the node to threshold. Likewise, if a node has been partially activated recently, it is already “warmed up” & so a weak input will bring it to threshold.  The process of nodes activating other nodes is known as spreading activation. Retreival Cues - e.g. If asked to recall the capital of South Dakota (Pierre), you may not be able to remember because you may not be familiar with South Dakota or you may not have thought about the capital for some time. This weak connection will do a poor job of carrying the activation, resulting in a weak level of activation at the “Pierre” node, & it will not reach threshold, & therefore will not be “found”. However, if given the hint “It’s a man’s name”, this will activate the man’s name node, spreading out from the South Dakota nodes. Therefore, the Pierre node will now receive more activation & this will likely be enough to reach threshold. Context Reinstatement - Underwater example: being underwater will trigger more certain thoughts that may remind you of learning the list of words, compared to not being underwater. So when underwater, the nodes for each word will receive more activation (activation from trying to remember the list + activation from certain thoughts associated with being underwater). Semantic Priming - All the above explanations rest on a key assumption: the summation of subthreshold activation. - Lexical-decision task: participants shown a series of letter sequences on a screen; some words, some aren’t (e.g. blar or plome). Must hit yes/no depending on whether it is a word or not. Presumably, they “look up” these letter strings in their “mental dictionary”, & base their reponse on whether or not they find it. Speed therefore indicates how quickly they can locate the word in their memory.  e.g. shown a pair of letter strings, yes if both are words & no otherwise. Additionally, if both were words, sometimes the words were semantically related (nurse, doctor) & sometimes they were not. For related words, activation of the first word (bread) would sent some activation to the second (butter). In order to select a response after the first word, a participant must locate the second word in memory, and the process would be faster for 2 related words because the 2 word has already received some activation. This prediction is called semantic priming. The results confirm this. - However, spreading activation is not the whole story for memory search. First, people have some degree of control over the starting points for their memory searches, relying on reasoning processes & executive control. People can also “shut down” some spread of activation if they are convinced the wrong nodes are being activated. Different Forms of Memory Testing - Important implication: retrieval paths will be helpful only if you’re at the appropriate starting point – this is the basis for context reinstatement. - In some cases, we want to recall information; we are presented with a retrieval cue that broadly identifies the info we seek & we need to come up with the info on our own. In other cases, you draw from your memory via recognition – info presented to you & you must decide if it is the info you seek or not. (e.g. “I’m sure I’ll recognize the street when I get there”). - Recall involves memory search, & therefore depends on memory connections. - Recognition is a “hybrid”. E.g. you’re taking a recognition test, & the 4 word is “loon”, you might say ‘I remember seeing this word because I remember the image that came to mind when I saw this word. This is a recognition judgement, but you’re actually basing your judgement on recall of the earlier episode, therefore it is more likely that you formed the relevant connections during learning. This is source memory.  Sometimes recognition works differently though – you may instead think “I don’t recall seeing this word, but it feels very familiar, so I must have seen it recently & it must have been on the list”. In this case, you do not have source memory, but you do have a strong sense of familiarity, & you are willing to make an inference about the source of the info – you atrribute the familiarity to the test. Familiarity & Source Memory - Source memory depends on the connections we have talked about all along, & it is independent of familiarity (e.g. familiarity w/o source memory recognize someone & can remember how you know them).  Source memory without familiarity: e.g. Capgras syndrome – patient has accurate memories but no familiarity. - Also distinguishable biologically: recognition test, participants had to make “remember/know” distinction by pressing a “remember” button if they recall encountering the item or pressing a “know” button if they don’t recall the encounter but just have a feeling that the item must have been on the earlier list. fMRI’s make it clear that “remembering” an item shows activity in the hippocampus (crucial for memory); “knowing” an item shows activity in the anterior parahippocampus (crucial for familiarity). - Also distinguished during learning – if certain areas (e.g. rhinal cortex) are especially active during learning, then the stimulus is likely to seem familiar later on. If other areas (e.g. hippocampal region) are active during learning – high probability of remembering- response. Implicit Memory Memory Without Awareness - We can find out if someone remembers a previous event by re-exposing them to the same event later & assessing whether their response is different than in the first encounter; specifically we can see whether the first primed the person for the second. If so, the person must have some sort of memory of the first. - Participants told to read a list of words w/o knowing they would later be tested, then later given a lexical-decision task (shown letter strings & told to indicate whether each is a word or not). Some of these
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