Chapter 6: Memory (Key word definitions, key concepts & questions)
Memory – the ability to store and retrieve information over time
3 Key Functions of memory encoding, storage, retrieval
How is making a memory like following a recipe?
Memories are made by combining information we already have in our brains with new information that comes
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
3 Types of Encoding Processes:
o How do old memories influence new ones? 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 through our senses
o Semantic judgment meaning of the word (deeper processing than other two), rhyme
judgment sound of the word, visual judgment the appearance of the words
o Elaborate Encoding the process of actively relating new information to knowledge that is
already in memory
o Elaborate encoding takes place in the lower left part of the frontal lobe and the inner part of
the temporal lobe
Visual Imagery Encoding
o Visual imagery encoding – the process of storing new information by converting it into mental
o How does visual encoding influence memory? Two ways:
Visual imagery encoding does some of the same things elaborative encoding foes:
when you create a visual image, you relate incoming information to knowledge
already in the memory.
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
o Organizational encoding – the process of categorizing information according to the
relationships among a series of items
o Why might mentally organizing the material for an exam enhance your retrieval of that
material? Organizing words into conceptual groups and relating them to one another makes it
easier to reconstruct the items from memory later
Memory mechanisms that help us to survive and reproduce should be preserved by natural selection, and our
memory systems should be built in a way that allow us to remember especially well encoded information that is
relevant to our survival. To test this idea researchers present participants with three different encoding tasks:
Storage – the process of maintaining information in memory over time
3 Kinds of Storage:
o Sensory memory – a type of storage that holds sensory information for a few seconds or less
Because we have more than one sense, we have more than one kind of sensory
o Iconic memory – a fast-decaying store of visual information
o Echoic memory – a fast-decaying store of auditory information
Short-Term Storage & Working Memory
o Short-term memory – holds nonsensory information for more than a few seconds buy less than
a minute (15-20 sec) Chapter 6: Memory (Key word definitions, key concepts & questions)
o We can use a trick that allows us to get around the natural limitations of our short-term
Rehearsal – the process of keeping information in short-term memory by mentally
Chunking – combining small pieces of information into larger clusters or chunks
o Working memory – active maintenance of information in short-term storage. Differs from
short-term memory in the sense that it includes the operations and processes we use to work
with information in short-term memory.
Includes subsystems that store and manipulate visual images or verbal information,
as well as a central executive that coordinates the subsystems.
o Long-term memory – a type of storage that holds information for hours, days, weeks, or years.
Sesory input Sensory memory (unattended information is lost) attended information short-term memory
(unrehearsed memory is lost) encoding long-term memory (retrieval from short-term memory) some
information may be lost over time.
Anterograde amnesia – the inability to transfer new information from the short- term store into the long-term
Retrograde amnesia – the inability to retrieve information that was acquired before a particular date, usually the
date of an injury or operation
The hippocampal-region index links together all of these otherwise separate bits and pieces so that we
remember them as one memory. It is critical in when a new memory is first formed, it may become less
important as the memory ages.
Consolidation – the process by which memories become stable in the brain.
How does memory become consolidated? The act of recalling a memory, thinking about it, and talking
about it with others probably contributes to consolidation.
Reconsolidation – memories can become vulnerable to disruption when they are recalled, requiring them to
become consolidated again.
MEMORIES, NEURONS, AND SYNAPSES
Why are the spaces between neurons so important to memory?
A synapse is the small space between the axon of one neuron and the dendrite of another, and the neurons
communicate by sending neurotransmitters across these synapses. This act of sending neurotransmitters
changes the synapse, specifically strengthens the connection between the two neurons, making it easier for them
to transmit to each other the next time. Any experience that results in memory produces physical changes in the
Long-term Potentiation (LTP) – a process whereby communication across the synapse between neurons
strengthens the connection, making further communication easier.
Properties of LTP:
o It occurs in several pathways within the hippocampus
o Can be induced rapidly
o Can last for a long time
Long-Term Potentiation in the Hippocampus – the presynaptic neuron
releases the neurotransmitter glutamate (a major excitatory neurotransmitter
in the brain) into the synapse. Glutamate then binds to the NDMA – (a receptor
site on the hippocampus that influences the flow of information between neurons
by controlling the initiation of long-term potentiation) receptor sites on the
postsynaptic neuron. At the same time, excitation in the postsynaptic neuron
takes place. The combined effect of these two processes initiates long-term
potentiation and the formation of long-term memories.
Together these two events initiate LTP, which in turn increases synaptic
connections by allowing neurons that fire together to wire together. Chapter 6: Memory (Key word definitions, key concepts & questions)
Retrieval Cues – external information that is associated with stored information and helps bring it to mind
Encoding Specificity Principle – states that a retrieval cue can serve as an effective reminder when it helps re-
create the specific way in which information was initially encoded
Why might it be a good idea to sit in the same seat for an exam that you say in during lecture?
The feel of the chair and the sights you see may help you remember the information you learned while you sat
State-dependent Retrieval – the tendency for information to be better recalled when the person is in the same
state during encoding and retrieval
A person’s psychological or physiological state at the time of encoding is associated with the
information that is encoded
Transfer-appropriate Processing – memory is likely to transfer from one situation to another when the encoding
context of the situations match
Retrieval can improve subsequent memory:
With 5-minute retention interval, the study-study condition results
in slightly higher recall. But the results change dramatically with