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Chapter 6

PSY100H1 Chapter Notes - Chapter 6: Implicit Memory, Explicit Memory, Spreading Activation

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Pare, Dwayne

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PSYB57 Chapter 6: Interconnections between Acquisition and Retrieval
Learning as Preparation for Retrieval
When you are learning, you are making connections between newly acquired material and other
representations already in your memory
The connections help because they make knowledge findable later on
o They serve as retrieval paths
Retrieval paths have a start point and an end point
Context-Dependent Learning
Pattern of data in which materials learned in one setting are remembered when the person
returns to that setting but less remembered in another setting
In an experiment, half of the participants learned test material while on land and other half
learned while underwater. Within each group, half were tested while underwater and half were
tested on land. A retrieval advantage is expected that divers who learned material while
underwater will remember the material best if they’re again underwater at the time of the test
Another study showed that those who read an article in quiet did best if tested in quiet and vice
What matters is not the physical context but the psychological context
Changes in Your Approach to the Memory Materials
Context reinstatement = procedure in which someone is led to the same mental and emotional
state he or she was in during a previous event; may promote accurate recollection of that event
Fisher and Craik presented participants with a series of word pairs. They were instructed to
learn the second word of each pair and use the first word as an aid to remembering the target
word. For half the pairs, the other word was semantically paired with the target word. For the
other pairs the context word was one that rhymed with the target
o People who thought about meaning at the time of learning remembered 50% more than
people who thought about sound
o If participants thought about meaning at the time of learning, they better in the test if
cues provided by the experimenter concerned meaning. If they thought about sound at
the time of learning, they did better with a cue concerning the word’s sound
Encoding Specificity
What is preserved in memory is a record of target material and also some record of the
connections you established during learning
A cue is effective only if it is congruent with what was stored in memory
Encoding specificity = the tendency, when memorizing, to place in memory both the materials to
be learned and also some amount of the context of those materials; later on those materials will
be recognized at familiar if they appear in a similar context
The Memory Network
Memory acquisition and learning involve the creation (or strengthening) of memory connections
Memory is thought of as a vast network of ideas represented as nodes within a network
The nodes are tied to each other via connections called associations or associative links

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Spreading Activation
Nodes receive activation from their neighbors and as more and more activation arrives at a
particular node, the activation level for that node increases, eventually reaching the node’s
response threshold. The node then fires
Activation levels below the threshold (sub-threshold activation) have important role to play:
activation is assumed to accumulate and bring the node to threshold. If a node has been
partially activated recently, it is already warmed up so a weak input will be sufficient to bring it
to threshold
Activation travels node to node via associative links. Each node becomes activated and fires and
serves as a source for further activation (spreading activation)
Activation spreads out from its starting point in all directions simultaneously, flowing through
whatever connections are in place
Retrieval Cues
A participant is asked “what is the capital or South Dakota?” this activates the south Dakota
nodes, and activation spreads from there to all the associated nodes
It is possible that the connection between south Dakota and Pierre is weak so Pierre may not
receive enough activation to reach threshold,
Things will go differently if the participant is given a hint, “the capital is a man’s name.
o Now Pierre node will receive activation from 2 sources, the south Dakota nodes and the
man’s name nodes
With this double input, it is more likely that the Pierre node will reach threshold
This is why hints make the memory search easier
Context Reinstatement
The info you seek in memory is tied to the retrieval cue you are given but it’s possible that the
info you seek receives insufficient activation from this source
The info you seek may also be tied in memory to thoughts that had been triggered by the
learning context
If you are back in that context at the time of recall, the target nodes can receive a double input
and this will help activate the target nodes
Semantic Priming
The insufficient activation received from one source can add to the insufficient activation
received from another source
Either source of activation on its own would not be enough but the 2 can combine to activate
the target nodes
In a lexical-decision task, research participants are shown a series of letter sequences on a
computer screen
Some sequences spell words, other sequences aren’t words
The participants’ task is to hit a yes button if the sequence spells a word and a no button
Trials with related words will produce semantic priming
Participants were given a lexical decision task involving pairs of words.
o In some pairs the words were semantically related and in other pairs the words were
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