Learning as preparation for retrieval
As discussed in Chapter 5:
Learning = making connections between new material and other knowledge in
This makes it possible to find the new knowledge later.
Def.: dependent on the state one is in during acquisition
If person learns information underwater, he will think thoughts that are linked to
o This forms memory connections between the info he is leaning and his
thoughts about the context
By returning the diver to this situation, he will think the context thoughts,
triggering the connected target materials
If diver learned on land then was put into the water, he would not have these
context thoughts so he would not have these additional triggers for the
knowledge he had learnt.
Changes in Your Approach to the Memory Materials
Context reinstatement: recreating the context that was in place during learning so that
memory functions can be improved.
This only has effect because it influences how you think about the materials to be
It‟s the thoughts and perspectives that have effect, not really the actual physical
Participants told to remember the second word of a word pair that was
semantically related or rhymed
During testing, the prime words were presented as cues or hints Encoding Specificity
What‟s preserved in memory is a record of the target material and also a record of the
connections that were established during learning.
Encoding specificity: remembering something within a specific context
This label for the fact that, when we encode information, it is specific. It‟s not just
the physical stimulus that was encountered but the stimulus and its context.
People learn the whole of a piece of information, not the parts
Nodes of information are linked together by connections called associations or
The nodes become activated when they receive a strong enough input signal.
Nodes received activation from other nodes. As more activation reaches a particular
node, the activation level for that node increases.
Activation level will hit node‟s response threshold and the node fires.
Firing the nodes has several effects:
o Can be source of activation, sending energy to neighbouring nodes
o Firing summons attention to the node = „finding‟ the node in the memory
Activation levels below the response threshold (subthreshold activation) can
This means that two subthreshold inputs can add up (summate) and bring the
node to threshold
If a node has been partially activated recently, it is „warmed up‟ so that even
weak inputs can push it to threshold
Spreading activation: activation travels from node to node via the associative links.
As each node becomes activated and fires, it serves as source for further
activation, spreading activation throughout the network.
Def.: a clue or prompt that helps stimulate recall and retrieval of a stored piece of
information from long-term memory
Example: When you are asked „what is the capital of this state?‟, your network begins
activating in the area that has knowledge about this state, spreading to the knowledge
of the capital. (Example: South Dakota‟s capital is Pierre) The connections between the nodes may be weak because you don‟t think about
this often or you‟re just not very good at remembering capitals.
This means that, while you may have the node, only a small bit of activation is
getting to it and it‟s not firing.
However, if you are given a hint (retrieval cue) that the capital is also a man‟s name,
your network activates in that area as well. This means that there are two areas that are
currently spreading activation.
This means that the node is receiving information from the two areas
simultaneously and it will, hopefully, be enough to hit threshold levels.
Context reinstatement is lot like a hint. When you have learnt the information about
something in a specific context, you have created links.
When you are then asked to recall the information, you not only have the area
about the information that is activating but the area about the context is activating
This means that the nodes are getting activation from two areas, making them
more likely to reach threshold
If a node is not receiving enough activation from one area, giving a cue from another
area is meant to start more activation so that the node will be more likely to fire.
Lexical decision task: test in which participants are shown strings of letters and must
indicate, as fast as possible, whether each string of letters is a word in English or not.
It is supposed that people perform this task by looking up these strings in a
Better speed = strength of a person‟s spreading activation
Showing related words makes activation faster. By showing the first word, its
activation is already starting to spread out to the second word, due to the
relation. So when the participant looks at the second word, they are faster to
identify it because it has already had a headstart on activation
= semantic priming: specific prior event (first word) will produce a state of
readiness (faster responding to second word) later on
People have some control over the „starting point‟ of their spreading activation. They
also have some control over shutting it down, if they think the activation is going to the
Different Forms of Memory Testing Recall: the participant must come up with the desired materials
when a general cue is used to search memory
Recognition: in which memory items to be remembered are presented and the person
must decide whether or not the item was encountered in some earlier circumstance.
Familiarity: In some circumstances, the subjective feeling that you have encountered a
stimulus before. Other circumstances, the objective fact that you have encountered the
stimulus before and are now influenced by that encounter whether or not you recall the
encounter or feel that the stimulus is familiar.
Source memory: form of memory that allows you to recollect the episode in which
learning took place or the time and place in which a particular stimulus was
Attribution: step of explaining a feeling or event, usually identifying the factors
that are the cause of the current feeling or event. Also known as: causal
Familiarity and Source Memory
Familiarity without source memory: you can‟t remember how/when you saw this
information, but you know you‟ve seen it
Source memory without familiarity: Capgras syndrome – they have incredibly detailed
knowledge of who they are seeing and what their relation is, but there is no sense of