Chapter 7 reading
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PSY270 Lecture 7
Long Term Memory: Everyday Memory and Memory Errors
Autobiographical memory (AM): Recollected events belonging to person’s past
includes episodic memory for events in our lives plus personal semantic memories of facts
episodic memories for distant events can fade with time and become more semantic
Multidimensional nature of AM
multidimensional because they consist of spatial, emotional and sensory components.
Patients who suffered brain damages that caused a loss of visual memory lost ability to recognize objects, visualize and
loss of AM.
oVisual stimuli not available to serve as retrieval cues for memories
oMemories not based on visual information also lost.
oVisual experience plays an important role in forming AM.
Cabeza et al: measured brain activation by 2 stimulus photos
oA-photos: taken by participant (of campus)
oL-photos: taken by others (same building, but possibly different view)
oFound that A-photos + L-photos activated many of the same structures in the brain, that are associated with
episodic memory and parietal cortex (processes scenes)
oA-photos: activated regions associated with processing information about the self – memory for visual space,
recollection. Activated hippocampus more.
oPhotos taken by self activated more extensive network of brain areas – reflects richness of experiencing AM.
oAM elicit emotions, which activates the amygdala.
Memory over the life span
Reminiscence bump: enhanced memory for adolescence and young adulthood
a.Rathbone et al: memory is enhanced for events that occur as a person’s self-image/life identity is being form.
i.Based this on an experiment where participants with an average age of 54 made “I am” statements –
usually 25 years (span on bump)
a.periods of rapid change followed by stability causes stronger encoding of memories.
b. Schrauf & Rubin: determined recollections of immigrants (20s vs mid 30s)
i.Found that bump shifted 15 years later for those who emigrated later.
3) cultural life script
a.culturally expected events that occur at a particular time in the life span
b. Berntsen & Rubin: asked people to list important events in a typical life
i.Falling in love 16 yrs
ii.College 22 yrs
iii.Marriage 27 yrs
iv. Children 28 yrs
v. These events happen in period associated with the reminiscence bump.
c.Events in a person’s life story become easier to recall when they fit the cultural life script for that person’s
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PSY270 Lecture 7
Memory for “Exceptional” events
Memory and Emotion
personal events, or events experienced by many simultaneously are remembered more easily and vividly.
Emotionally charged events are easier to remember
oLaBar & Phelps: test participants ability to recall arousing words (sexually explicit, profanity) vs neutral (eg.
Recalled arousing better.
oDolcos et al: tested participants ability to recognize emotional and neutral pictures 1 year after they were initially
Better memory for emotional pictures
Amygdala: high activity when recalling emotional words (through fMRI scans).
oCahill et al: B.P. (who had a damaged amygdala): memory was same for non-brain damaged participants for first
part of story, but not enhanced for emotional part.
oEmotions may trigger mechanisms in the amygdala that helps us remember events that are associated with
Flashbulb memories: refers to memory for circumstances surrounding hearing about shocking, highly charged events.
refers to memory for circumstances surrounding how a person head about an event, not memory for the event itself.
Brown and Kulik argue: something special about mechanisms responsible for flashbulb memories
oOccur under highly emotional circumstances and are remembered for long periods of time – vivid and detailed
(what you were doing at the time)
oLike a photograph (that resists fading)
o***FLAWED data: only collected years after the events occurrence, no way to measure accuracy.
Should have conducted repeated recall
•Collect memories immediately and compare to later recalls
Fla s hbulb memori e s are not like p h oto g rap h s – re c all chan g e s ov er ti m e
oOft en ina c c urate or la cking in detail
oNeis s e r & Hars c h: a sked p ar ticipants ab o u t h ow they h e a rd ab o u t the ex plosion of spa c e
sh u t tl e “Challen g er” a d ay af t er the event an d a s ked the s a me q u e s tio n s 2. 5 – 3 y e a rs
Foun d ina c c urate rep o r t s – large incre a s e of p ar ticipants rep o r t ed h e a ri n g it o n TV.
fla s hbulb memori e s d e c ay just like reg ular memori e s .
Talarico & Rubin: a s ked p ar ti cipants about 9/11 event an d an every d ay event
oRemembered fewer d etails an d made more er rors at lo n g er intervals aft er event (little
differenc e b/w fla s hbulb an d every d ay)
oSu p p o r ts ide a that there is n o thing spe cial ab o u t fla s h b ulb memori e s .
Par ti cipants b eli eved that their fla s hbulb memorie s were a c c urate an d lower for
Foun d that memorie s for events a s s ociated wit h h e ari ng 9/11 more re sistant to
fading than memori e s for other events that to ok pla c e ab o u t the s a me ti m e.
Davidso n et al: a sked p ar ti cipants q u e s tio n s about 9/11 an d an every d ay event (most intere s ted
oSurpris e memory te s t (s a me q u e s tio n s) 1 y e a r later
Given cue if co uld n’t remember every d ay event.
Score for every d ay events slightly lower than 9/11
Fla s hbulb memori e s d e cline o v er ti m e – is not like a p h o to g rap h .
oBett er memory may b e d u e to the intens e emotio n s involved, which trig g ered the
amyg d ala which h elped the enco din g of the memory. OR
oDue to n ar r ative rehe a rs al hy p o the sis: co n stant replays o n TV, n ews, media.
Spe cific context surro u n ding an event c a n influenc e memory.
oEmotio n al context
oIde a that what p eo ple remember is a “co n st r uction” b a s e d o n what a c tually h ap p ened
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