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semantic memory.docx

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Steve Joordens

HistoryeditThe idea of semantic memory was first introduced following a conference in 1972 between Endel Tulving of the University of Toronto and W Donaldson on the role of organization in human memory Tulving constructed a proposal to distinguish between episodic memory and what he termed semantic memory He was mainly influenced by the ideas of Reiff and Scheers who in 1959 made the distinction between two primary forms of memory One form titled remembrances and the other memoria The remembrance concept dealt with memories that contained the experiences of an autobiographic index whereas the memoria concept dealt with those memories without the experiences of an autobiographic index Semantic memory was to reflect our knowledge of the world around us It holds generic information that is more than likely acquired across various contexts and is able to be used across different situations According to Madigan in his book titled Memory semantic memory is the sum of all knowledge you have obtained whether it be your vocabulary understanding of math and all the facts you know The use of semantic memory is quite different from that of episodic memory Semantic memory refers to general facts and meanings we share with others whereas episodic memory refers to unique and concrete personal experiences Tulvings proposal of this distinction between semantic and episodic memory was widely accepted mainly because it allowed the separate conceptualization of knowledge of the world Tulving discusses these separate systems of conceptualization of episodic and semantic memory in his book titled Elements of Episodic Memory He states that both episodic and semantic memory differ in regards to several factors including the characteristics of their operations the kind of information they process and their application to the real world as well as the memory laboratory Before this proposal by Tulving this area of human memory had been neglected by experimental psychologists A number of experimenters have conducted tests to determine the validity of Tulvings hypothesized distinction of episodic and semantic memory Empirical evidenceeditKihlstrom 1980 Experiment 1edit In this study four groups of University students varying in their levels of hypnotic susceptibility were hypnotized While under hypnosis they learned a list of 16 common words using a multitrial free recall method Once the subjects were able to perfectly recall the list twice in succession they were told that after awakening they would not remember having learned any of the words while under hypnosis However given the signal of the experimenter not only will they remember having learned the words but they will also remember the words from the list During stage one of the experiment after subjects were awakened the number of words recalled by the subjects were used as a measure of performance for the episodic task of free recall Most subjects remembered learning the list of words During the second stage the measure of semantic memory performance was assessed Each subject was given a semantic free association test where stimulus words were given to elicit the learned words As mentioned previously the subjects represented various levels of hypnotic susceptibility as determined by their scores on the Stanford Hypnotic Susceptibility Scale They were grouped according to their score The semantic free association probabilities were relatively the same across various hypnotized groups However the episodic free recall probabilities were significantly different across the groups The percentage increased as the hypnotizability of subjects decreased The subjects in the very high susceptibility group recalled almost nothing whereas the medium and low groups recalled 86 of the learned words Because the free association test was not related to the hypnotic susceptibility of the subjects shows that amnesia presented after hypnosis determined the memory for the wordevents that occurred in the study phase This study provides evidence that supports the episodicsemantic distinction hypothesized by Tulving Jacoby and Dallas 19814edit This study was not created to solely provide evidence for the distinction of semantic and episodic memory stores However they did use the experimental dissociation method which provides evidence for Tulvings hypothesis Part one Subjects were presented with 60 words one at a time and were asked different questions Some questions asked were to cause the subject to pay attention to the visual appearance Is the word typed in bold letters Some questions caused the participants to pay attention to the sound of the word Does the word rhyme with ball Some questions caused the subjects to pay attention to the meaning of the word Does the word refer to a form of communication Half of the questions were no answers and the other half yes Part Two
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