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Chapter 5

PS260 Chapter 5 - acquisition of memories and WMS.docx

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Wilfrid Laurier University
Anneke Olthof

Acquisition of Memories & Working-Memory System Introduction  Before there can be a memory, some learning must occur; that is, new information must be acquired.  Once acquiring information, it must be held in memory until it's needed.  finally, we use the info we remember.  info is somehow found in the vast warehouse that is memory and brought into active use.  these terms are:  acquisition: the process of placing new info into long-term memory.  storage: where memory is stored.  retrieval: process of locating memory and activating it. Route into Memory Theorizing in cognitive psychology was guided by a perspective called information processing.  information processing: complex, mental events, such as learning, remembering, and deciding, are understood as being built up out of a large number of discrete step.  these steps occur one by one, with each providing as its "output" the input to the next step in the sequence retrieval Incoming Short-term Information Early Long-Term Analysis Memory Memory Maintenance via rehearsal Loss?  in the diagram above, arrows indicate the flow of information from one process to another.  a great deal of info was detected, recognized, and entered into memory storage  Atkinson-Shiffrin  consensus model came to be known as the modal model. Modal Model modal model: our info processing involves two different kinds of memory: short-term and long-term memory. a) short-term memory: hold on to info currently in use.  limited in how much it can hold  easily and instantly available to you  working memory: a term that emphasizes the function of this memory. o a system of mental resources used for holding info in an easily accessible form o all mental tasks rely on working memory because it involves sequence of steps b) long-term memory: much larger memory that includes all our knowledge and all our memories.  contains memories that aren't currently active  contains memories from what you did yesterday to childhood memories, etc.  no association and not dependent with working memory  much of the material here lies dormant, and process of retrieving info here requires more effort and is sometimes slow. Working memory and Long-Term Memory Evidence demand in the distinction between working memory and LTM. Using the modal model:  free recall: a method of assessing memory.  The person being tested is asked to come up with as many items as possible from a particular source, in any order.  people usually remember 12 to 15 words in a 30 word test  primary effect: likely to remember the first things on the list  the transfer of material from working memory to LTM depends on processes that require time and attention  as participants hear the list, they do their best to be good memorizers, so when they hear the first word, they repeat it over and over to themselves.  memory rehearsal: repeating something you've heard repeatedly to maintain info in working memory.  as more words are presented, you have to divide your attention which means that each word only receives a small fraction of effort.  recency effect: likely to remember the last things on the list  during the list presentation, participants are thinking about words they hear  as participants proceed through the list, their working memories will, at each moment, contain only half a dozen words that arrived most recently  any words earlier than these will have been pushed out by later arrivals  when the list of presentation ends, last few words stay in place, so easier to recall  materials in working memory are readily available- easily and quickly retrieved.  serial position: relationship between a measure of performance and the order of which the test materials were presented.  shows a U-shaped curve and the likelihood of recall. manipulating working memory:  recency portion of the curve is coming from the working memory while other items on the list are being recalled from LTM  primary effect reveals:  early words have a greater chance of being transferred into LTM  greater chance of being recalled after a delay  any manipulation of working memory should affect recall of the recency items, but not recall of other items on the list.  an activity interpolated between the list and recall essentially eliminates recency effect, but has no effect on the other items on the list  merely delaying the recall for a few seconds after the list's end, with no interpolated activity, has no impact. manipulating long-term memory:  manipulation should affect all performance except for recency.  if we slow down the presentation of the list:  improves retrieval from LTM  has no influence on working memory performance  improves retention of all pre-recency items  fMRI scans suggest that memory for early items on a list depends on brain areas that are associated with long-term memory; memory for later items on the list don't show this pattern. Closer Look at Working Memory The Function of Working Memory When info is currently in use or likely to be needed soon, it is held in working memory.  working memory will be involved in a wide range of tasks  working memory's capacity varies from one individual to the next  someone with a larger capacity working memory is likely to:  be a more efficient reader, confirming the role of working memory in reading  be better off in many types of reasoning skills, making it clear that working memory matters The Holding Capacity of Working Memory We can measure someone's working memory capacity with a digit-span task. (like a span test)  digit-span task: people are read a series of digits, and must immediately repeat them back. If they do so successfully, they are given a slightly longer list. If they can repeat without error, they're given a longer list, etc.  they keep repeating this till they make errors; happens when there's more than 7 or 8 items  this procedure implies that working memory's capacity is between 7 or 8 items but not more than 9.  can be misleading in terms of "items"  George Miller  working memory holds 7 plus-or minus 2 chunks.  chunks: hypothetical storage unit in working memory.  working memory holds 7 plus-or-minus 2 packages; package containment is up to the person  the chunking process does have a cost attached, because some effort is required to "repackage" the materials and with some amount of attention spent in this way, less attention is available for rehearsing these items.  chunking is one complication in our measurement of working memory's capacity *span test only counts the number of "slots" in working memory. It doesn't really measure what the working memory's capacity does with these slots. The Active Nature of Working Memory The language of the modal model seems to imply that working memory is something like a box in which info is stored (but really isn't).  the "work" in working memory often involves analysis of materials to be remembered, and finding connections between these materials and other info already in storage.  the notion of a loading platform may be misleading, as is the notion of mechanical transfer between one position and another.  working memory is like the office of a busy librarian who is energetically categorizing, and cross-referencing new material.  another way to measure working memory is reading span/operation span.  operation span: measures the efficiency of working memory when it is "working"  e.g. measuring reading span, participants are asked to read aloud a series of sentences and recall the final words in the sentences. They add a sentence each time and recall until it limits their performance to retrieve.  this task involves: o storing some materials (ending words) o simultaneously working with other materials (full sentences)  performance in this test is likely to reflect the efficiency with which working memory will operate in more natural settings.  moving from one task to the next is exactly what working memory must do in its functioning day-to-day life.  there are strong positive correlations between WMC and other measures such as verbal SAT, tests of reasoning, etc.  people with a larger WMC seem less likely to have their minds wander, and so are more likely to keep their thoughts "on task", in comparison to people with smaller WMC.  these findings show that the working memory is not a passive storage box but instead a highly active info processor. The Working-Memory System  The working memory is a system built out of several components: a) central executive: a multi-purpose processor capable of running different operations on many different types of material. o it does the real "work" in working memory o if one has to plan a response or make a decision, these steps require the executive o many tasks place a different, less complicated demand on working memory - "information holder", temporary resting spot for info that isn't needed but will soon be.  info holder is just mere maintenance; can be provided by its "helpers" b) helpers: serve as strong information you will need soon but don't need right now. This leaves the executive free to work on more difficult matters. It has two main helpers: 1. visuospatial buffer: used for storing visual materials (e.g. mental images) 2. articulatory rehearsal loop: used for storing verbal material.  subvocal speech "the inner voice": items are rehearsed here to load the buffer  phonological buffer "the inner ear": mechanisms for reading the buffer The Central Executive  certain processes are needed to control the sequence of our thoughts and actions;  these processes serve to select and launch specific responses;  they are needed for planning and the setting of goals, and for the steps needed to resist falling into habit or routine.  these processes can only work on one task at a time, limiting people's ability to divide their attention  the function of working memory is to control our moment-by-moment awareness as we work on a task:  these mental resources, needed for control of the mind's processes, are the central executive  central executive is just the name we give for the use of these cognitive resources  we know that in many sites of prefrontal cortex are active when people are engaged in tasks that make heavy use of working memory.  patients with frontal lesions show a pattern of goal neglect or perseveration  goal neglect: relying on habitual responses even if those responses won't move them toward their assigned goal in a particular task.  perseveration: involves a strong tendency to produce same response over and over again, even when it's plain that the task requires a change in response. o e.g. patients are asked to sort a deck of cards into two piles o patients sort cards according to color then later switch strategie
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