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Chapter 7

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Dan Dolderman

PSY100 ATTENTION AND MEMORY [CHAPTER 7] Henry Molaison (H.M.): Underwent a surgery for his sever epilepsy. He got his medial temporal lobes, including hippocampus, removed in hopes of stopping the seizures. However from this surgery, he lost the ability to form new long term memories. The only memories he had were the ones that he knew at the time of the surgery (childhood, members of his family, etc). He was able to learn new things and acquire knowledge, but not remember it or remember doing it. Memory: The nervous system’s capacity to acquire and retain useable skills and knowledge. How does attention determine what is remembered? Visual Attention is Selective and Serial - According to Treisman’s theory about attention, we automatically identity “primitive” features such as colour, shape, orientation and movement, within an environment. o Separate systems analyze objects’ different visual features; through parallel processing, these systems all process information at the same time, and we can attend selectively to one feature by effectively blocking the further processing of the others o Visual research task: consisted of a target (red) along with distractors (many black) o Serial: searching for 2 features (you need to look at stimuli one at a time)  Effortful: takes longer and requires more attention  Conjunction task: stimulus you are looking for is made up of two simple features Auditory Attention Allows Selective Listening - Because attention is limited, it is hard to perform two tasks at once, especially if they rely on the same mechanisms Cocktail party phenomenon: - Can focus on a single conversation in a chaotic cocktail party, but a pertinent stimulus like hearing you name mentioned in another conversation or hearing gossip, can capture your attention o Your selective attention can also determine which conversation you hear - Shadowing: selective-listening studies to examine what peoples minds do with the unattended information when people pay attention to one task o When given different auditory messages in each ear, and asked to repeat just one (“shadow”) o The subject usually notices the unattended sound (the message given in the other ear) but will have no knowledge about its content Selective Attention Can Operate at Multiple Stages of Processing - Filter theory: People have a limited capacity for sensory information and thus screen incoming information, letting in only the most important - Some stimuli such as those that evoke emotions, may capture attention because they provide important information about potential threats in an environment o Same object produces a stronger attentional response when it is viewed as socially relevant (eg, if someone is a potential mate) or may intend to cause physical harm (angry face) o Found that faces, especially when threatening, are prioritized over less meaningful stimuli by the attentional system - Studies have found that even when participants cannot repeat an unattended message, they still have processed its content consciously - Change blindness: the common failure to notice large changes in environments o Shows that we can attend to a limited amount of information and that large discrepancies exist between what most people believe they see and what they actually see o Shows how attention influences memory o Therefore our perceptions of the world are often inaccurate, and we have little awareness of our perceptual failures; we simply do not know how much info we miss in the world around us What are the basic stages of memory? - Memory allows us to take info from our experiences and store it for retrieval later - Memory’s 3 distinct phases o Encoding phase: processing of info so that it can be stored o Storage phase: the retention of encoded representations over time that corresponds to some change in the nervous system that registers the event o Retrieval phase: the act of recalling or remembering stored info to use it - Modal memory model: the 3 stage memory system that involves sensory memory, short-term memory, and long-term memory Sensory memory is brief - Memory for sensory info that is stored briefly close to its original sensory form - We obtain info about the world through our senses which then take that info and change it into neural impulses; everything that we remember is the result of neurons firing in the brain - Sperling concluded that the visual memory persisted for about 1/3 of a second, after which the sensory memory trace faded progressively until it was no longer accessible Working memory is active - Short term memory (STM): A limited-capacity memory system that holds info in awareness for a brief period o Working memory (WM): An active processing system that keeps different types of info available for current use o Also called immediate memory, or RAM (random access memory), which can handle only a small amount of info compared with the vast amount stored Memory span and chunking - Memory span: Miller noted that the limit to WM is generally 7 items (plus or minus two) - More recent research says its actually 4 items - Chunking: organizing info into meaningful units to make it easier to remember - The 3 processes – retrieval, transformation, and substitution- make distinct and independent contributions to updating the contents of working memory (sometimes only need one/two of the processes to update working memory) Working memory’s four parts - WM is an active processing unit that deals with multiple types of information, such as sounds, imagers, and ideas - Working memory components: central executive, phonological loop, visuospatial sketchpad, and episodic buffer - Central executive: presides over the interactions among the phonological loop, the visuospatial sketchpad, the episodic buffers and long term memory o It is the control system; encodes info from sensory systems and then filters info that is important to be stored in long term memory - Phonological loop: encodes auditory info and is active whenever a person tries to remember words by reading them, speaking them or repeating them - Visuospatial sketchpad: processes info such as objects’ features and where they are located o Patients with brain damage find it hard remembering spatial layouts but have little difficulty remembering words, or vice versa - Episodic buffer: holds temporary info about oneself, drawing heavily on long term episodic memory Long-term memory is relatively permanent - The relatively permanent storage of info Distinguishing long-term memory from working memory - In two ways: duration and capacity - Serial position effect: the ability to recall items from a list depends on order of presentation, with items presented early or late in the list remembered better than those in the middle o Involves two separate effects: primacy effect (refers to the better memory people gave for items presented at the beginning of the list- due to LTM) and recency effect (refers to peoples better memory for the last most recent items- due to WM) What gets into long-term memory - Possible explanations: o Info enters permanent storage through rehearsal (showed that overlearning, where you keep rehearsing info you already know leads to improved memory over longer periods of time – distributed practice, whereas through massed practiced or cramming) o We attend just enough attention for the task at hand and lose info that seems irrelevant o Only info that helps us adapt to our environment is typically transformed into a long-term memory o Evolutionary theory helps explain how we decide in advance what information will be useful What are the different long-term memory systems? - Most basic distinction between memory systems is the division of memories we are consciously aware of from memories we acquire without conscious effort or intention and do not know we know - Implicit memory: the system underlying unconscious memories - Explicit memory: the process involved when people remember specific info o Episodic memory: memory for one’s personal past experiences o Semantic memory: memory for knowledge about the world - Declarative memory: the cognitive info retrieved from explicit memory; knowledge that can be declared through words/concepts &/or visual images Implicit memory occurs without deliberate effort - Not able to put memory into words - Example would be classical conditioning, because you experience fear at sight of person in white lab coat but might have past associations between a person in white lab coat and pain - At social level of analysis, implicit attitude formation can affect our beliefs about people, such as whether particular people are famous - False fame effect: if all you remember about a name is that you have heard it before or it feels familiar, you will likely assume it belong to a famous person (if were given a list of famous people the day before) - Implicit memory is involved in repetition priming: the improvement in identifying or processing a stimulus that has been experienced previously - Procedural memory: a type of implicit memory that involves motor skills and behavioural habits employed to achieve goals o Have automatic and unconscious aspect Prospective memory is remembering to do something - Prospective memory: remembering to do something at some time in the future o Takes up valuable cognitive resources, either by reducing number of items we can deal with in WM or by reducing the number of things we can attend to o Involves automatic and controlled processes How is information organized in long-term memory? Long-term storage is based on meaning - We have mental representations for complex and abstract ideas, including beliefs and feelings such as love - All this info is stored in networks of neurons in the brain - Memories represent many different kinds of info whether images, facts, ideas, tastes or muscle movements - Retrieval often involves an explicit effort to access the contents of memory storage - Levels of processing model: the more deeply an item is encoded, the more meaning it has and the better it is remembered - Maintenance rehearsal: repeating the item over and over - Elaborative rehearsal: encodes the info into more meaningful ways, such as thinking about the item conceptually or deciding whether it refers to oneself Schemas provide an organizational framework - Schema: a hypothetical cognitive structure that helps us perceive, organize, process and use info o Help us sort out incoming info, and guide our attention to an environments relevant features o We construct new memories by filling in holes within existing memories, overlooking inconsistent info, and interpreting meaning based on past experiences - Can lead to biased encoding because culture heavily influences schemas Information is stored in association networks - Network of associations: similar concepts are connected through their associations - Node: each unit of info in a network o The closer the nodes, the stronger the association will be o Each node connected to many other nodes o Activating one node increases the likelihood that closely associated nodes will also be activated - Associative networks’ overall organization is based on hierarchically structured categories, which provide a clear and explicit blueprint for where to look for needed info Retrieval cues provide access to long-term storage - Retrieval cue: anything that helps a person (or another animal) recall info from memory - It is easier to recognize than to recall info Encoding specificity - Encoding specificity principle: any stimulus that is encoded along with an experience can later trigger memory for the experience - Context dependent memory: when the recall situation is similar to the encoding situation o Can be based on thing such as physical location, odors, background musi
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