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7A: Memory. 12/2/13. Let’s talk about memory. What do you already know? What is memory? What is long-term memory? What is short-term memory? What helps you remember? Demos. Memory. The persistence of learning over time through the storage and retrieval of information.

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7a memory

7A: Memory


Let s talk about memory
Let’s talk about memory

  • What do you already know?

  • What is memory?

  • What is long-term memory?

  • What is short-term memory?

  • What helps you remember?

  • Demos


  • The persistence of learning over time through the storage and retrieval of information.

  • Memory is often seen as steps in an information-processingmodel (like a computer)

    • Encoding – Processing information into memory system, extracting meaning(The process of putting information into digital format.)

    • Storage – retention of encoded information (Hard Drive)

    • Retrieval – getting information out of storage(Accessing the Hard Drive)

Information processing
Information Processing

  • Sensory Memory: the immediate, very brief recording of sensory information in the memory system

  • Short-term Memory: activated memory that holds a few items briefly, such as the seven digits of a phone number while dialing before the information is stored or forgotten

  • Long-term Memory: the relatively permanent and limitless storehouse of the memory system. Includes knowledge, skills, and experiences

7a memory

Information Processing Model

1. Encoding


2. Storage

Long Term Memory

3. Retrieval

All the rest


Sensory Registers

External Stimuli


Short Term Memory

Information processing revised
Information Processing Revised

  • Working memory: a newer understanding of short-term memory that focuses on conscious, active processing of incoming auditory and visual-spatial information, and of information retrieved from long-term memory


  • Automatic vs. Effortful Processing

    • Automatic: Unconscious encoding of incidental information, ivolves parallel processing and includes space, time, frequency and well-learned information

    • Effortful: requires attention and conscious effort

      • Rehearsal: conscious repetition of information, to maintain it consciousness or to encode it for storage

      • As rehearsal increases relearning time decreases (Forgetting curve, Ebinghaus)

Encoding continued
Encoding Continued

  • Spacing Effect: the tendency for distributed study or practice to yield better long-term retention than is achieved through massed study (cramming) or practice.

    • “Spaced study and self-assessment beat cramming”

  • Serial Position Effect: our tendency to recall best the last and first items in a list

    • Recency effect-remember last items briefly

    • Primary effect- remember first items best

  • Demo


  • We encode information with by associating it to what we already know.

  • Visual Encoding: appearance

  • Acoustic Encoding: sound

  • Semantic Encoding: meaning- produces best recognition of words

Visual encoding
Visual Encoding

  • Imagery: Mental pictures; powerful aid to effortful processing, especially when combined with semantic encoding

    • We remember words we can visualize better (remember the demo?)

    • Rosy retrospection: we tend to remember positive events as more positive than they actually were

  • Mnemonics: memory aids, techniques that use vivid imagery and organizational devices

Organizing information
Organizing Information

  • Demo

  • Chunking: Organizing items into, familiar, manageable units; often happens automatically

  • Hierarchies: organizing information into groups and subgroups

Sensory memory
Sensory Memory

  • Very brief and immediate storage of sensory information

  • Iconic memory: momentary sensory memory of visual stimuli. Photographic or picture-image memory lasting for a few tenths of a second (images clear quickly to make room for new ones)

  • Echoic memory: momentary sensory memory of auditory stimuli. If attention is elsewhere, sounds and words cans still be recalled within 3-4 seconds (What did I just say?)

Working short term memory
Working/short-term memory

  • Conscious active processing of information

  • Incoming sensory information illuminated by our “attentional flashlight”

  • Information recalled from long term (hard drive) and put in our conscious attention (view screen/edit)

  • Lloyd and Margaret Peterson-consonant experiment

  • Magic number 7 +/- 2

  • Information not rehearsed is essentially forgotten

Long term memory
Long-Term memory

  • “limitless” space, new memories do not overwrite old ones.

Warm up

  • What is the information processing model? What three parts does it consist of?

  • What are the three “types” of memory we have discussed?

  • What are the differences between these types?

  • What is rehearsal? How important is it to memory storage?


  • A schema is a set of beliefs or expectations about something based on past experience

  • Incoming information is fit with existing schemata

    • (concept maps)

  • Schemata can also influence the amount of attention paid to a given event

Memory storage
Memory Storage

  • There is no specific place for specific memories, memories are dispersed through out the cortex. (rats with parts of brain removed still were able to complete the maze)

  • Where experiences are processed, memories are stored

  • Experience changes neural passageways, as passageways are used, connections are strengthened

  • Long-Term Potentiation (LTP): A long-lasting change in the structure or function of a synapse that increase the efficiency of neural transmission.

Stress hormones and memory
Stress Hormones and Memory

  • Heightened emotions (stress-related or otherwise) make for stronger memories. (more glucose and proteins available)

    • Memory serves to predict the future and possible dangers

  • Hormones such as Epinephrine act on brain centers in the brain

  • Flashbulb memory: a clear memory of an emotionally significant moment or event

  • Extreme stress undermines learning and later recall

  • How does this apply to an exam?

Explicit and implicit memory
Explicit and Implicit Memory

  • Explicit memory

    • Memory for information we can readily express and are aware of having

    • This information can be intentionally recalled

  • Implicit memory

    • Memory for information that we cannot readily express and may not be aware of having

    • Cannot be intentionally retrieved

  • Amnesia: loss of memory

Types of long term memory

Episodic memories

Memories for personal events in a specific time and place

Semantic memories

Memory for general facts and concepts not linked to a specific time

Procedural memories

Motor skills and habits

Emotional memories

Learned emotional responses to various stimuli

Types of Long-Term Memory

Explicit memory

Implicit memory

The hippocampus and memory
The Hippocampus and Memory

  • The hippocampus helps process Explicit Memories for storage.

  • Lateralization of the Hippocampus: specialized functions of the left and right hippocampus as well as different areas of each.

  • If Hippocampus is damaged, it becomes difficult to form new Explicit memories, but implicit memories are still possible via the Cerebellum.

    • Clive Wearing Video

Cerebellum and implicit memories
Cerebellum and Implicit memories

  • Plays a key role in formation and storage of implicit memories. (procedural)

  • If Clive’s cerebellum was still intact what could he still do?


  • Recall: a measure of memory in which the person must retrieve information learned earlier, as on a fill-in-the-blank test.

  • Recognition: a measure of memory in which the person need only identify items previously learned, as on a multiple-choice test.

  • Relearning: a measure of memory that assesses the amount of time saved when learning material for a second time.

  • We remember more than we recall

Retrieval cues
Retrieval Cues

  • Anchor points you can use to access the target information. (surroundings,mood,seatingposition)

  • The more retrieval cues the better the chances are you will arrive at the target memory

  • Best retrieval cues are recorded at the time of the memory (sights, smells, tastes, sounds)

  • Priming: the activation, often unconsciously, of particular associations in memory. (meeting someone who reminds us of someone we know)

Context effects
Context Effects

  • “I need to pack my bag for basketball.” (sitting on the couch)

  • “Why did I come up here?” (in my room)

  • “I need to pack my bag.” (sitting on the couch)

  • We remember things in the context we experienced the thought

  • Déjà vu: That eerie sense that “I’ve experienced this before.” Cues from the current situation may subconsciously trigger retrieval of an earlier experience.

Moods and memories
Moods and Memories

  • Events that cause specific emotions are often remembered when the emotions come out again.

  • State-Dependent Theory: what we learn in one state is more easily recalled when we are again in that state. (drunken recall)

  • Mood-congruent memory: the tendency to recall experiences that are consistent with one’s current good or bad mood. (if you fail a test and your girlfriend dumps you, you remember other bad things that have happened) prolongs moods (good or bad)

Forgetting 7 sins of memory
Forgetting (7 sins of memory)

  • 3 sins of forgetting

    • Absent-mindedness: inattention to details leads to encoding failure

    • Transience: storage decay over time (use it or lose it)

    • Blocking: Inaccessibility of stored information (on the tip of my tongue)

  • Three sins of distortion

    • Misattribution: confusing the source of information

    • Suggestibility: the lingering effects of misinformation

    • Bias: belief-colored recollections

7a memory

Some forgetting isn t a retrieval problem at all encoding failure
Some “forgetting” isn’t a retrieval problem at all. Encoding Failure

We cannot remember what we do not encode.

Storage decay
Storage Decay

Poor durability of stored memories leads to their decay. Ebbinghaus showed this with his forgetting curve.

Retaining spanish
Retaining Spanish

Bahrick (1984) showed a similar pattern of forgetting and retaining over 50 years.

Andrew Holbrooke/ Corbis

Retrieval failure
Retrieval Failure

Although the information is retained in the memory store, it cannot be accessed.

Tip-of-the-tongue (TOT) is a retrieval failure phenomenon. Given a cue (What makes blood cells red?) the subject says the word begins with an H (hemoglobin).

Experiences can affect memory interference
Experiences can affect Memory: Interference

  • Retroactive interference: Occurs when new information interferes with information already in memory. (The ‘retro’ old info is interfered with by the new)

  • Proactive interference: Occurs when information already in memory interferes with new information

    • Because of proactive interference, new learning is disrupted by old habits.

I need a volunteer that knows their colors
I need a volunteer that knows their colors.

  • Don’t read the words, just say the colors they’re printed in and as fast as you can

7a memory












  • When you look at the words you see both its color and meaning.

  • When they are in conflict you must make a choice

  • Experience has taught you that word meaning is more important than color so you retrieve that information.

  • You are not always in complete control of what you pay attention to.

Motivated forgetting
Motivated Forgetting

Motivated Forgetting:People unknowingly revise their memories.

Repression:Adefense mechanism that banishes anxiety-arousing thoughts, feelings, and memories from consciousness.

Culver Pictures

Sigmund Freud

Why do we forget
Why do we forget?

Forgetting can occur at any memory stage. We filter, alter, or lose much information during these stages.

Memory construction
Memory Construction

  • Misinformation effect: incorporating misleading information into one’s memory of an event.

  • Source Amnesia: Attributing an event to the wrong source, something we heard, read o reimagined.

  • These 2 concepts are the heart of many false memories.