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Chapter 6


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University of Toronto Scarborough
Steve Joordens

Chapter 6- Memory  MEMORY IS THE ABILITY TO STORE AND RETRIEVE INFORMATION OVER TIME  key functions of memory: encoding, the process by which we transform what we perceive, think, or feel into an enduring memory; storage, the process of maintaining information in memory over time; and retrieval, the process of bringing to mind information that has been previously encoded and stored Encoding  Memories are made by combining information we already have in our brains with new information that comes in through our senses  Memories are constructed, not recorded, and encoding is the process by which we transform what we perceive, think, or feel into an enduring memory. Let’s look at three types of encoding processes—elaborative encoding, visual imagery encoding, and organizational encoding—and then consider the possible survival value of encoding for our ancestors. 6.2 Elaborative encoding  Memories are a combination of old and new information, so the nature of any particular memory depends as much on the old information already in our memories as it does on the new information coming in through our senses (In other words, how we remember something depends on how we think about it at the time.)  Semantic judgments required the participants to think about the meaning of the words, rhyme judgments required the participants to think about the sound of the words and visual judgments required the participants to think about the appearance of the words.- Those participants who made semantic judgments (i.e., had thought about the meaning of the words) had much better memory for the words than did participants who had thought about how the word looked or sounded.  long-term retention is greatly enhanced by elaborative encoding, which is the process of actively relating new information to knowledge that is already in memory  Studies reveal that elaborative encoding is uniquely associated with increased activity in the lower left part of the frontal lobe and the inner part of the left temporal lobe  The more activity there is in these areas, the more likely the person will remember the information 6.3 visual imagery encoding  visual imagery encoding, the process of storing new information by converting it into mental pictures  could simply convert the information that you wanted to remember into a visual image and then “store it” in a familiar location  When you create a visual image, you relate incoming information to knowledge already in memory. For example, a visual image of a parked car might help you create a link to your memory of your first kiss  Second, when you use visual imagery to encode words and other verbal information, you end up with two different mental “placeholders” for the items—a visual one and a verbal one—which gives you more ways to remember them than just a verbal placeholder alone  Visual imagery encoding activates visual processing regions in the occipital, which suggests that people actually enlist the visual system when forming memories based on mental images 6.4 Organizational Encoding  organizational encoding, the process of categorizing information according to the relationships among a series of items  organizational encoding activates the upper surface of the left frontal lobe 6.5 encoding of survival related info  Survival encoding draws on elements of elaborative, imagery, and organizational encoding, which may give it an advantage over any one of the other three. Alternatively, perhaps thinking about information with regard to its survival value is more interesting or emotionally arousing than other kinds of encoding - (memory passed down for survival) 6.7 Storage of memories  storage is the process of maintaining information in memory over time. There are three major kinds of memory storage—sensory, short-term, and long-term. As these names suggest, the three kinds of storage are distinguished primarily by the amount of time over which a memory is retained  Sensory memory holds sensory information for a few seconds or less  Sperling used this procedure to demonstrate that although iconic memory stores the whole grid, the information fades away too quickly for a person to recall everything  Iconic memory is a fast-decaying store of visual information  Echoic memory is a fast-decaying store of auditory information 6.9 Short term storage and working memory  short-term memory, which holds nonsensory information for more than a few seconds but less than a minute.  These results suggest that information can be held in the short-term memory store for about 15 to 20 seconds.  Rehearsal is the process of keeping information in short-term memory by mentally repeating it  Short-term memory is limited in how long it can hold information, and also limited in how much information it can hold  Short-term memory isn’t limited to numbers, of course: it can also hold about seven letters or seven words  Chunking involves combining small pieces of information into larger clusters or chunks. Waitresses who use organizational encoding to organize customer orders into groups are essentially chunking the info  Working memory refers to active maintenance of information in short-term storage.  It differs from the traditional view that short-term memory is simply a place to hold information and instead includes the operations and processes we use to work with information in short-term memory.  Working memory includes subsystems that store and manipulate visual images or verbal information, as well as a central executive that coordinates the subsystems  working memory depends on regions within the frontal lobe that are important for controlling and manipulating information on a wide range of cognitive tasks 6.10 Long Term storage  Franco Magnani-Many years later, photographer Susan Schwartzenberg went to Pontito, armed with a collection of Magnani’s paintings, and photographed each scene from the perspective of the paintings. As you can see in the images, the correspondence between the paintings and the photographs was striking  long-term memory holds information for hours, days, weeks, or years. In contrast to both sensory and short-term memory, long-term memory has no known capacity limits  SENSORY INPUT-SENSORY MEMORY (unattended info lost)- AFTER ATTENTION SHORT TERM MEMORY (unrehearsed memory lost)- AFTER ENCODING LONG TERM MEMORY - RETREIVAL  hippocampal region of the brain is critical for putting new information into the long- term store. When this region is damaged, patients suffer from a condition known as anterograde amnesia, which is the inability to transfer new information from the short- term store into the long-term store  Some amnesic patients also suffer from retrograde amnesia, which is the inability to retrieve information that was acquired before a particular date, usually the date of an injury or operation  Psychologists now believe that the hippocampal region acts as a kind of “index” that links together all of these otherwise separate bits and pieces so that we remember them as one memory  although the hippocampal-region index is critical when a new memory is first formed, it may become less important as the memory ages Memory Consolidation  consolidation, a process by which memories become stable in the brain  Shortly after encoding, memories exist in a fragile state in which they can be easily disrupted; once consolidation has occurred, they are more resistant to disruption  One type of consolidation operates over seconds or minutes. For example, when someone experiences a head injury in a car crash and later cannot recall what happened during the few seconds or minutes before the crash—but can recall other events normally—the head injury probably prevented consolidation of short-term memory into long-term memory. Another type of consolidation occurs over much longer periods of time—days, weeks, months, and years—and likely involves transfer of information from the hippocampus to more permanent storage sites in the cortex. The operation of this longer-term consolidation process is seen in the retrograde amnesia of patients with hippocampal damage who can recall memories from childhood relatively normally, but are impaired when recalling experiences that occurred just a few years prior to the time they became amnesics  consolidation gets a boost from something that you do effortlessly every night: sleep  reconsolidation- consolidated memories can again become vulnerable to disruption when they are recalled, thus requiring them to be consolidated again  of reconsolidation raises the intriguing possibility that it might be possible one day to eliminate painful memories by reminding individuals of traumatic experiences and injecting the right drug while the memory is held in mind  Adding nonfearful information to the reactivated memory (re-presenting the object without shock) a few minutes later——when the memory is vulnerable to reconsolidation—resulted in long-lasting reduction of fear responses to the object, whereas adding nonfearful information to the reactivated memory six hours later— when the memory is no longer vulnerable to reconsolidation—did not have a long- lasting effect  Jenkins and Dallenbach (1924) reported that recall of recently, learned information is greater immediately after sleeping than after the same amount of time spent awake  When you’re asleep, you are not exposed to potentially interfering information, and so your memories may be protected compared with an equivalent period of wakefulness 6.11 Memories Neurons and synapses  memories are in the spaces between neurons  synapse is the small space between the axon of one neuron and the dendrite of another, and neurons communicate by sending neurotransmitters across these synapses  sending neuron changes synapse  between neurons are strengthened by their communication, making communication easier the next time, provides the neurological basis for long-term memory- Eric Kandler with Aplysia  long-term storage involves the growth of new synaptic connections between neurons  long-term potentiation, more commonly known as LTP, which is a process whereby communication across the synapse between neurons strengthens the connection, making further communication easier  The NMDA receptor influences the flow of information between neurons by controlling the initiation of LTP in most hippocampal pathways  the presynaptic, or “sending,” neuron releases a neurotransmitter called glutamate (a major excitatory neurotransmitter in the brain), which attaches to the NMDA receptor site on the postsynaptic, or “receiving,” neuron. Second, excitation takes place in the postsynaptic neuron. Together, these two events initiate LTP, which in turn increases synaptic connections by allowing neurons that fire together to wire together 6.13 Retrieval  retrieval is the process of bringing to mind information that has been previously encoded and stored, and the most important of all memory processes  The information outside your head is called a retrieval cue, which is external information that is associated with stored information and helps bring it to mind  e.g. “I know who starred in Pirates of the Caribbean, but I just can’t remember it”?, only to have a friend give you a hint (“Wasn’t he in Alice in Wonderland?”), which instantly brings the answer to mind (“Johnny Depp!”).  The encoding specificity principle states that a retrieval cue can serve as an effective reminder when it helps re-create the specific way in
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