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Memory. Mental Representations. For a stimulus to be remembered it has to be represented in the mind A mental representation is a psychological version (mental model) of a stimulus or category of stimuli A neural code such as “dogs” or “cars” . Mental Representations. Sensory Representations

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Memory 1363611


Mental representations

Mental Representations

  • For a stimulus to be remembered it has to be represented in the mind

  • A mental representation is a psychological version (mental model) of a stimulus or category of stimuli

  • A neural code such as “dogs” or “cars”

Mental representations1

Mental Representations

  • Sensory Representations

    • Stores information in a sensory mode such as the sound of a dog barking

  • Verbal Representations

    • Store information in words

    • The concept of “freedom” is a verbal representation

James model of memory

James’ Model of Memory

  • William James differentiated between primary and secondary memory

  • Primary

    • Immediate memory for information momentarily held in consciousness

  • Secondary

    • Stored information that can be recalled upon demand

Standard model of memory

Standard Model of Memory

  • Sensory Registry (SR)

  • Short term memory (STM)

  • Long term memory (LTM)

Sensory registry

Sensory Registry

  • Detects that something is there

  • Holds information for a fraction of a second

  • Creates a mental representation that it passes onto short term memory

  • Similar to a stroke on the keyboard of a computer

Short term memory

Short Term Memory

  • Holds mental representations for up to 20-30 seconds

  • Limited capacity of 5-7 bits of information

    • (Telephone numbers)

  • Decides whether a mental representation is worth saving

  • Rehearsal- A deliberate effort to retain material in STM

  • Similar to a computer screen

Long term memory

Long Term Memory

  • If one decides to save mental representations in STM they commit the data to LTM

  • Once in LTM the data is stored indefinitely

  • Serial position effect suggest we tend to remember data at the beginning of a sequence better than we remember data at the end of a sequence

  • Similar to a hard disc on a computer

Evolution of the memory model

Evolution of the Memory Model

  • Serial Processing Model

    • Stages that occur in a particular memory sequence

    • Recent research questions whether this is accurate in that some memories are not consciously sent to LTM

    • Some evidence that LTM influences STM

  • Modules

    • View memory as a set of modules that can operate simultaneously (parallel) rather than in a serial sequence

Evolution of the memory model1

Evolution of the Memory Model

  • Some LTM memories can be acted upon without conscious effort or STM

  • The underlying metaphor has shifted from mind as a computer to mind as brain

Working memory

Working Memory

  • Working memory is the temporary storage and processing of information that can be used to:

    • Solve problems

    • Respond to environmental demands

    • Achieve goals

  • Working memory is active in that the information remains only so long as one is consciously using it

Working memory model

Working Memory Model

  • Visual Memory Store

    • Temporary images

  • Verbal Memory Store

    • Based on sounds

  • Central Executive

    • Controls and manipulates visual and verbal stores

Working long term memory

Working Memory

Temporary storage

Limited capacity

Work space to accomplish goals

Long Term Memory

Permanent storage

Unlimited capacity

Does not process, just stores

Working & Long Term memory



  • Memory technique that uses knowledge stored in LTM to accomplish goals

  • Key interaction between working and long term memory

  • Utilizes mnemonics such as:

    • SEC= Securities and Exchange Commission

    • USAID= United States Agency for International Development

Forms of long term memory

Forms of Long Term Memory

  • Declarative

    • Facts and events such as September 11th

  • Procedural

    • How to knowledge such as riding a bicycle

  • Semantic

    • General (genetic) knowledge (cars in general)

  • Episodic

    • Memory of a specific nature ( my first car)

Explicit implicit memory

Explicit & Implicit Memory

  • Explicit

    • Conscious recollection

    • Recall

      • Essay examination

    • Recognition

      • Multiple choice examination

  • Implicit

    • Behavior not requiring conscious recollection

    • Tying a shoe

Everyday memory

Everyday Memory

  • Memory we use in our daily activities

    • Functional in that it is important to us

    • Focuses on remembering meaningful information

  • Perspective Memory

    • Memory for things we need to do in the future

    • Our mental “to do” list

Encoding stimuli

Encoding Stimuli

  • Encoding

    • Processes used to store data in our brain

  • Encoding Specificity Principle

    • The match between the manner in which information is encoded and later recalled

      • Goal to memorize

      • Goal to understand

      • Context

      • Emotional state at time of stimuli

Levels of processing

Levels of Processing

  • The degree to which information is elaborated, reflected upon and processed

  • Shallow

    • Little effort expended

    • Often used for multiple choice exams (details)

  • Deep

    • A great deal of energy is devoted to an event or stimuli

    • Necessary for essay exams (underlying concepts)

Representational modes

Representational Modes

  • The more ways a memory can be encoded the greater the accessibility for retrieval

  • Retrieval Cues

    • Stimuli or thoughts that can be used to facilitate recollection

  • A special dining experience at a finer dining establishment will include:

    • The atmosphere of the location

    • The visual presentation of the food

    • The odors of the food

Two strategies to remember

Two Strategies to Remember

  • Mnemonic Devices

    • Systematic shortcuts

    • “RAW” to remember




  • Method of Loci

    • Associate new information with something familiar

Sq3r method

SQ3R Method

  • Survey

    • Pager through a chapter

  • Question

    • When beginning a section turn the heading into a question

  • Read

    • As you read attempt to answer the questions you posed about the section

  • Recite

    • Mentally (or orally) answer your questions

  • Review

    • When you finish the chapter, recall your questions and relate what you have learned to your experiences and interests



  • Rehearsing information over a period of time is more effective than waiting until the last minute

  • Cramming the night before an exam

    • better than not studying at all

    • not nearly as effective as studying over the course of several weeks

Biology of memory

Biology of Memory

  • Network of Association

    • Each piece of information is stored in a node

    • Activating one node triggers activation in closely related nodes

  • Spreading Activation Theory

    • Suggests nodal networks are hierarchically organized from narrow networks through broader connections



  • Patterns of thought that render the environment relatively predictable. Schemas fill in the missing pieces in a situation and serve to bias our perceptions

    • Police officers issue speeding tickets

  • An active process of reconstruction of the past

    • I got a ticket once and lost my license for 30 days

  • Schemas greatly influence our perception of a new event

    • That officer might issue me a ticket

Seven sins of memory

Seven Sins of Memory

  • Transience

    • Memories fade away

  • Absent-Mindedness

    • Failure to remember due to distraction

  • Misattribution

    • Misremember source of a memory

  • Suggestibility

    • Thinking we remember something that someone actually implanted in our minds

Seven sins of memory1

Seven Sins of Memory

  • Bias

    • Distorting the way we recall events in a way we would rather remember

  • Persistence

    • Retaining (rehearsing) memories we would rather forget

  • Forgetting

    • Inability to recall



  • Steep drop in our ability to recall

  • Availability & Access

    • Availability- The data is “in there”

    • Access- Our ability to retrieve the data

  • Flashbulb Memories

    • Vivid memories of exciting or high consequence events

Decay theory

Decay Theory

  • Suggests forgetting is a result of fading memory tracts if not used

  • We tend to rehearse important memories and ignore others

Interference theory

Interference Theory

  • Proactive Interference

    • Previously stored memories interfere with new information

      • One refers to their current partner by their previously partner’s name

  • Retroactive Interference

    • New information interferes with stored memories

      • Your new cell # interferes with remembering your previous cell #

Motivated forgetting

Motivated Forgetting

  • We actively desire to forget (repress) something or some event

    • A bad argument with your parents

    • A break up with a significant other

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