Chapter 3 – Episodic and Semantic Memory
Episodic memory for autobiographical events. Semantic memory is general fact
information. Both accessible to conscious recall and can be communicated
Episodic memory acquired in a singe exposure, semantic memory strengthened by
repeated exposure. Episodic memory includes information about spatial and
temporal context. Semantic memory need not include this information.
Factors that affect whether episodic and semantic memories are successfully
encoded and retrieved Factors include whether the information can be related to
preeisting knowledge, how it is processed (deeply. shallow), the degree to which
encoing and recall conditions match, and how many cues are available to prompt
Forgetting occurs early after event. Ribot gradient suggests that if older memories
survive a consolidation period, they tend to be “safe” from subsequent forgetting.
Memories can be lost or distorted through interference, source amnesia,
cryptomnesia and false memory.
Cerebral cortex site of storage for semantic memories.
Hippocampal region active during encoding of material that will be remembered
Unclear whether episodic memories become fully independent of hippocampus or
whether hippocampus always help access memories store in the cerebral cortex.
Frontal cortex helps bind memory of events with spatial and temporal context.
Damage to frontal cortex prone to source amnesia.
Diencephalon and basal forebrain important. Damage results in anterograde
Functional amnesia can be temporary, caused by psychological trauma rather than
Infantile amnesia lack of episodic memories from first few years of life, due to
immaturity of brain structures, lack of cognitive sense of self, absence of language
Declaritive/Explicit Memory: broader term, includes both semantic and episodic
Nondeclarative/Implicity Memory: not always consciously accessible.
Episodic memory harder to access in animals, requires “mental time travel” to re-
experience event in memory.
Scrub jays bury extra food in caches so they can retrieve it later. Birds accurately
remember cache locations, will return there later even if experimenter secretly removed
food. Scrub jays can remember where, what type and how long ago food was stored.
It Is easier to remember information you can interpret in context of things you already
know.. Depth of processing: The degree to which we analyze new information. In general,
deeper processing of information leads to better remembering of that information.
Ebbinghaus concluded that most forgetting occurs in the first few hours or days after
learning. If you can remember a fact or event after few months, then the odds are very
good that you’ll remember it permanently.
Consolidation period: a length of time during which ew episodic and semantic
memories are vulnerable and easily lost or altered.
Transfer-appropriate processing: retrieval more likely if cues available at recall similar
to those available at encoding.
Free Recall: asked to generate information from memory.
Cued Recall: you are given some kind of prompt.
Recognition: pick out correct answer from list pf possible options.
Interference: when two memories overlap in content. The strength of either or both
memories may be reduced.
Proactive interference: old information can disrupt new learning