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Episodic memory: Retrieval processes. systematic study of role of retrieval processes in remembering started with work of Canadian psychologist Endel Tulving. (who also introduced distinction between episodic and semantic memory). Episodic memory: Retrieval processes .

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Episodic memory: Retrieval processes

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Episodic memory retrieval processes l.jpg

Episodic memory: Retrieval processes

  • systematic study of role of retrieval processes in remembering started with work of Canadian psychologist Endel Tulving

(who also introduced

distinction between

episodic and semantic

memory)


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Episodic memory: Retrieval processes

  • given that retrieval cues are important to access information in episodic memory:

  • What makes the best retrieval cue to recall words from

  • list?

    • Perhaps, most strongly associated word in our language?

    • target : sky weak associate: clear

    • strong associate: blue


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Episodic memory: Retrieval processes

  • systematic manipulation of retrieval cues

  • Tulving & Osler, 1968

  • at study: CITY – dirty

  • at test: free recall??

  • cued recall with original cue dirty ????

    • cued recall with new high assoc.village ????

    • findings:+cued recall better than free recall

    • +original cue better than new highly associated cue (not studied)


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Episodic memory: Retrieval processes

  • Tulving & Osler, 1968

  • finding:+ original cue better than other highly associated cue

    • ->association between cue and target in language as such not critical

    • ->critical whether cue was present when target was originally encountered


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Episodic memory: Retrieval processes

  • subsequent generalization:

    • to be effective, retrieval cue does not have to be present at encoding literally; cue just has to bring to mind what person thought about at encoding

    • Study:The fish attacked the swimmer

    • Test Group 1: What was the sentence that had to do with ‘shark’?

    • Test Group 2: What was the sentence that had to do with ‘fish’?

    • Cue in Group 1 more effective than cue in Group 2


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Episodic memory: Retrieval processes

  • further evidence that specific way in which info was thought about at encoding determines effectiveness of retrieval cue:

  • experiments by Bransford et al. (1974)

    • Study –Group 1: the man tuned the PIANO

    • Study –Group 2:the man lifted the PIANO

    • Cued recall: something heavy ??

    • something melodious ??

    • Results:Group 1 remembers PIANO better with second cueGroup 2 better with first cue


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Episodic memory: Retrieval processes

  • theoretical interpretation of relationship between info at encoding and cue at retrieval:

  • encoding-specificity principle (Tulving & Thomson, 1973)

  • specific encoding operations determine what is stored, and what is stored determines what retrieval cues are effective in providing access to it


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What would be an effective cue to recall this picture?


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Episodic memoryRetrieval processes

  • further research on factors that influence intricate interplay between encoding and retrieval:

  • context-dependent retrieval

  • state-dependent retrieval

  • examples of external context:

  • + room in which episode took place

  • + peculiar smell at time of episode

  • examples of states of mind:

  • + being on drug

  • + being in particular mood (feeling sad)

  • ->external context or states of mind, when sufficiently encoded, can serve as powerful retrieval cue


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Research findings on context- and state-dependent retrieval

  • typical finding:

  • when context or state is same at encoding and retrieval

  • -> better performance than when it is different


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Context- and state-dependent retrieval:What are the limits?

  • external context and internal states don’t always work well as cues

  • -> most effective when no other retrieval cue available

  • e.g. weaker in cued recall than in free recall

  • -> states and context need to be consciously processed and important for experience at encoding to allow for subsequent benefits as cues

  • -> ‘experiential context’ most critical

  • e.g. when compared in same experiment, match in mood between encoding and retrieval more important than match in external context (Eich, 1995)


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Episodic memory: Retrieval processes

  • encoding-specificity principle (Tulving & Thomson, 1973)

  • specific encoding operations determine what is stored, and what is stored determines what retrieval cues are effective in providing access to it

  • -> leaves room for uniqueness of encoding in different individuals (subjective encoding)

  • ->benefits of cues for retrieval may vary from individual to individual

    • application: helping somebody to try and remember another person’s name


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Encoding-specificity principle: Implications

  • encoding-specificity principle

  • specific encoding operations determine what is stored, and what is stored determines what retrieval cues are effective in providing access to it

  • problem for empirical research:

  • how do we know what person encodes in the first place (in terms of experience)?

  • -> can we ever distinguish between loss of access vs loss of availability (retrieval failure vs true forgetting) ?

    • Schacter: probably not at cognitive level,

    • in principle yes at neural level


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Long-term memory (LTM):Conceptual distinction of two different types

  • Tulving 1972/1983:

  • distinction between episodic memory and semantic memory

  • episodic memory: remembering the past

  • - memory for episodes / events distinct in time and space

  • - associated with ‘mental time travel’

  • - conscious recollection of personal past experience

  • (‘me’-ness)

  • semantic memory: knowing about things learnt in the past

  • - memory for world knowledge

  • - timeless; does not rely on ‘mental time travel’

  • - does not involve conscious recollection

  • - shared with others


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Episodic memory versus Semantic memory

  • Examples:

  • retrieving information from episodic memory:

  • ‘in last term’s course on astronomy, my teacher explained that the solar system has nine planets’

  • retrieving information from semantic memory:

  • ‘the solar system has nine planets’


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Types of world-knowledge stored in semantic memory

  • + meaning of words(vocabulary)

  • what is empathy?

  • + properties and structure of objects (perceptual, functional)

  • what does an aardvark look like?

  • what is an abacus made for?

  • + structure and sequence of events (social, natural, and other)

  • what usually happens when you enter a restaurant?

  • how does an earthquake develop?

  • + knowledge about people (incl. self)

  • who was Willy Brand?

  • when is my birthday?

concepts


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Semantic memory:What is research about?

  • most psychological research on:

  • + how is information in semantic memory organized?

  • -> relates to question with long history in philosophy and linguistics:

  • what is the relation between different concepts in terms of their meaning?

  • e.g. what is the relationship between apples and kiwis or apples and peas?

  • Aristotle: “concepts should be properly and logically defined so as to avoid reasoning errors”


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Semantic memory:What is a concept?

  • pragmatic answer: the meaning of a word…

  • ….something that allows us to answer ‘what’ questions

  • e.g. what is a dog? What is ecphory?

  • more formal answer from dictionary:

  • (1) a general idea derived or inferred from specific instances

  • (2)something formed in the mind, a thought or notion

  • -> stresses relationship to categorization

  • -> stresses ‘mental’ nature (how we think about world)


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Semantic memoryWhat is a concept?

  • why is it important to have concepts/categories?

  • e.g. dog

  • Baddeley:

  • “concepts allows us to refer to what poodles, bull terriers, and great danes have in common”

  • -> intimately related to understanding of the world

  • -> potential for inferences/predictions

  • e.g. encountering animal that looks like dog -> how will it behave?


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Psychological research on organization of concepts in semantic memory

  • general question addressed:

  • Are concepts organized in a strictly logical manner?

  • starting point for research:

  • each concept is specified by fixed combination of semantic features

  • -> more specific question following:

  • Are different concepts organized in hierarchy according to shared features?

  • e.g. fruit -- apple -- peach


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Psychological research on organization of concepts in semantic memory

  • cognitive task used to address organization:

  • sentence verification task

  • “a canary has feathers”yes/no

  • “a shark can fly” yes/no


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Hierarchical nesting of conceptssuggested by Collins and Quillian (1969)

hierarchical model proposed in combination with idea of spreading activation and cognitive economy


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Finding in support of Collins & Quillian’s model

  • major finding in support of hierarchical organization:

  • RTs for sentence verification change systematically with # of levels of hierarchy involved


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    Subsequent problems with Collins & Quillian’s model

    + many hierarchical effects in RT disappear once frequency of properties in language usage is taken into account (Conrad, 1972)

    e.g. dog is an animal vs dog is a mammal

    +some exemplars of a category are verified more rapidly than others:

    robin is a bird vs penguin is a bird

    -> prototypicality effect

    why??


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    Subsequent problems with Collins & Quillians model/findings

    + systematic differences in RT for negative sentences that have to do with degree of semantic relatedness between concepts

    poodle is a bird vs poodle is a mineral

    why??

    +how can we come up with the proper hierarchyin the first place?

    e.g. how does ‘pet’ fit in?


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    Subsequent modifications tothe model: Collins & Loftus’ ‘spreading activation theory’

    • to deal with critique of original Collins & Quillians model

    • + no more strict hierarchical organization

    • + introduction of different semantic distances between concepts (to account for relatedness effects)

    • ->flow of activation between neighboring nodes varies according to distance

    • + introduction of different types of links:

    • ‘is a’ ‘is not a’ ‘has’ ‘can’ ‘cannot’


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    Subsequent modifications tothe model: Collins & Loftus’ ‘spreading activation theory’

    (different types of links not shown)


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    Collins & Loftus’ ‘spreading activation theory’

    • additional advantage of model:

    • allows to explain semantic priming effects

  • Meyer & Schvaneveldt(1971):

  • lexical decision task: butter -- Is it a word or not?

  • bunner -- Is it a word or not?

  • PRIME TARGET

  • a) bread ---- butter??-> faster response to target if b) doctor --- butter?? preceded by semantically related prime (a)

  • -> most direct evidence for spread of activation


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    Critique of Collins & Loftus’ ‘spreading activation theory’

    • introduced to account for limited findings obtained with specific paradigms (i.e. sentence verification, lexical decision tasks)

    • -> ability to account for findings with other tasks?

    • e.g., semantic comparisons

    • complexity and elaborate processing rules don’t make it parsimonious

      • e.g. many different types of linksnecessary

  • prototypicality effects still difficult to explain in context of theory


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