PSY100 U of T Ch. 7-10,12,16

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16 Apr 2012
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Psychology
Chapter 7: Attention and Memory
Seizures are uncontrolled random firings of groups of neurons and they spread across
the brain
To grasp the meaning of spoken language a person needs to remember the words
recently spoken
Memory: the nervous systems capacity to acquire and retain usable skills and
knowledge, allowing organisms to benefit from experience
Attention: the ability to direct something is ourselves to some information, a the cost
of paying less attention to other information
o „Pay‟ indicates that costs are associated with attending to some forms of info
and not others
Attention is limited- when it is divided between too many things it suffers
Anne Treisman- we automatically identify „primitive‟ features such as color, shape,
orientation and movement w/in an environment
o Separate systems analyze objects different visual features
o Parallel processing: systems all process info at the same time and we can
attend selectively to one feature by effectively blocking the further processing
of the others
If you are trying to find a friend in a crowd it would be fairly easy if
she was wearing red and everyone else was wearing balck
Searching for two features is serial and effortful
o Serial- need to look at the stimuli one at a time
o Effortful- takes longer, requires more attention
o Conjunction task stimulus you are looking for is made up of two simple
features
Cocktail party phenomenon- selective attention can determine which conversation
you listen to (ie. Gossip)
Shadowing- participant is wearing headphones that deliver one message to one ear
and another to the other, person is asked to attend to one of the messages and
„shadow‟ it by repeating aloud
o Notice other sound but have no knowledge of what you have heard
o Some important messages/info gets through the filter of your attention- needs
to be personally relevant to you (name, someone‟s name that you know, loud
or obviously different)
Filter theory- selective nature of attention, opens up for important info, closes for
irrelevant info
Stimuli that evokes emotion will capture attention because it can provide a threat to
environment
Faces capture attention because they provide important social info- attractiveness,
mood
Attention helps people focus on important aspects of environment
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Even when people cant repeat unattended message they still have processed its
contents
You can extract meaning for hearing something even if its not processed consciously
Change blindness: common failure to notice large changes in environments- we cant
attend to everything in the vast array of visual info available
o Shows how attention influences memory
Change blindness, blindness- peoples unawareness that they often do not notice
apparently obvious changes in their environments
o Recognizing the limitations of our attention may help prevent us from
misleading ourselves about our perceptions
Memory‟s multiple processes can be thought of as operating overtime in 3 distinct
phases:
o 1) Encoding phase- time of learning, info is acquired and changed into a
neural cod that the brain can use
o 2) Storage phase- retention of encoded representations over time that
corresponds to some change in the nervous system that registers the event- can
last a fraction of a second or a lifetime
Modal memory model: 3- stage memory system that involves sensory memory, short
term memory and long term memory
Sensory memory: temporary, lasting a fraction of a second, closely tied to the sensory
systems
o Occurs when light, sound, odor, taste or tactile impression leaves a vanishing
trace on nervous system for a fraction of a second
o Sperling concluded that visual memory persisted for about 1/3 of a second
after which sensory memory trace faded progressively until it was gone
o Allows us to view the world in a continuous stream
Short term memory (STM): limited capacity, holds info in awareness for brief period
Working memory (WM): active processing system that keeps different types of info
available for current use
o Words processing in WM are processed by how they sound rather than by
how they look or mean
Chunking: organizing info into meaningful units to make it easier to remember
Four components to working memory- central executive, phonological loop,
visuospatial sketchpad, episodic buffer,
o Phonological loop- speech, words, numbers
o Episodic buffer- integrated info about oneself
o Visuospatial sketchpad- visual, spatial material
Long term memory (LTM): relatively permanent storage of info; based on meaning
Serial position effect: ability to recall items from a list depends on order of
presentation, with items presented first and last in the list remembered better than
those in the middle
o Primacy effect and recency effect
o Relies on the distinction between WM and LTM- words studied most are
earlier in the list -> LTM, words at the end -> WM
Info enters permanent storage through rehearsal
Distributed practice is better than mass practice (cramming)
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We attend just enough attention and memory function for the task at hand and lose
info that seems irrelevant
People remember things critical for survival
Implicit memory: unconscious memory
o Procedural memory: involves motor skills, behavioral habits (they are
automatic/ unconscious)
Explicit memory: processes involved when people remember specific info
o Episodic memory: memory for ones personal past experiences
o Semantic memory: memory for knowledge about the world
Declarative memory- knowledge can be declared; cognitive info retrieved from
explicit memory
We are often unaware of influences on how we think or feel
Prospective memory: remembering to do something at sometime in the future:
involves automatic and controlled processes
o Retrieval cues, need something to jog your memory (why sticky notes are so
popular)
We remember things because of mental representation- memories are stored
representations
Info is stored in networks of neurons in brain
Fergus Craik and Robert Lockhart (U of T)- The more deeply a memory is encoded
the more meaning that memory has and the better it is remembered
o Level of processing model
o Different rehearsal= differential encoding
Maintenance rehearsal- repeating item over and over
Elaborative rehearsal- encodes info in meaningful way; thinks about the item
conceptually, decide if it refers to oneself
o Elaborate on basic info by linking it to knowledge from LTM
Schema: hypothetical cognitive structure that helps us perceive, organize, process and
use info (in LTM)
o Use to construct new memories by filling in holes with existing memories,
overlook inconsistent info, interpret meaning based on past experiences
Schemas can lead to bias encoding- culture?
o Frederic Barlett- asked British people to listen to Native folk tale and repeat
the tale-> British people altered the story so it made sense with their culture
o Laundry example pg 312
Info is stored in an association networks
Each unit of a network= node, each node is connected to other nodes
Activating one node increases the likelihood that closely associated nodes will also be
activated- closer the nodes the stronger the association will be
In semantic network- similar concepts are connected through their associations
Retrieval of some items led to enhanced memory for related items even when
participants were told to forget those items
o When one is reminded of a memory that they rather avoid, other parts of the
event will be reactivated- maybe leading to greater distress
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