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Memory – the persistence of learning over time
Of all our forms of memory, a few are exceptionally clear
and vivid. We call these flashbulb memories.
These tend to be memories of highly emotional events.
Typically people remember exactly where they were
when the event happened, what they were doing and the
emotions they felt.
Information Processing Model
1. encoding – getting information into brain
2. storage – retaining information
3. retrieval – get information back out
Encoding Memory
 Automatic processing – unconscious processing of
incidental information and well-learned information;
 Effortful processing – encoding that requires effort
and conscious attention. For example, learning
material for a class.
Before you cram….
1.Next-in-line effect – we are unlikely remember
information presented just before we must perform;
2.Spacing effect – longer spaces between practice
sessions leads to longer retention.
Serial position effect – we are most likely to remember
the beginning and end of items on a list.
Self-reference effect – we are more likely to remember
things that we feel relate to us.
Mnemonic devices – memory techniques that make use
of visual imagery or organizational information (Kooky
Popeye Can Only Find Green Spinach)
Chunking – organizing information into meaningful
Grouping words or concepts into meaningful categories
also helps with retention. This is why books are grouped
into chapters with lots of intermediate headings and
Occurs at three levels: sensory, short term, long term
1. Sensory memory – extremely short-term memory of
the information taken in by our senses. It last for few
seconds, but includes a great deal of the information
entering our senses.
Iconic memory – sensory memory of a visual image;
lasts a few 10ths of a second
Echoic memory – sensory memory of auditory
stimuli; lasts 3-4 seconds. It’s why you can answer
were you listening?
2. Short-term memory – (working memory) memory
that lasts only as long as we rehearse it.
The Magic Number 7 (Miller)
Maintenance Rehearsal: Repeating information silently
to prolong its presence in STM
Long-term memory – information that is processed
and stored so that it can be retrieved much later
Capacity of long term memory: thought to be limitless
Memory is stored in synapses;
Memories stored long-term are not disrupted by
electrical shock or a period of being unconscious. Shortterm memories are.
Short term stress (that causes release of hormones like
adrenaline) increase retention. This is possible
explanation for flashbulb memories (clear memory of
emotionally significant events)
Prolonged stress (that causes the release of hormones
like cortisol) can corrode neural connections and even
destroy the hippocampus
Consolidation – process by which working memory gets
put into long term
Hippocampus is the temporary processing center for
storing explicit memories; once formed, the memories are
stored in the frontal and temporal lobes of the cortex
Recognition (MC) vs. Recall (SA)
Once we’ve learned something and forgotten it, it takes
less time to relearn it.
Recognition is easier than recall because it provides
retrieval cues or hints that help us remember where the
information is stored in our memory.
Priming – the activation of particular associations in our
memory; is often unconscious. For example, we may
suddenly remember something that we thought we had
forgotten when we smell or taste something associated
with the memory. In this case, the smell is priming our
Associative network: memories linked together
through experience
Spreading activation model: representations of
concepts and their characteristics are activated (ie:
canary and bird)
Closeness of association affects retrieval time –
distant associations take longer
Schema: cognitive framework for organizing associated
Context effects – we are more likely to remember
something if we learn it in the same context. For
example, you will likely do better on a psychology test if
you take it in this room.
State-dependent memory – we are more likely to
remember something if we are in the same psychological
state (happy, sad, etc) that we were in when we learned it.
Memories are mood-congruent
Good mood = positive memories
Bad mood = negative memories
Downward spiral of depression
Forgetting – Forgetting is an important adaptation. If we
couldn’t forget most of the information that enters our
senses, we would be distracted most of the time.
Why do we forget?
1. Encoding Failure – information never enters longterm memory; usually because we didn’t make an effort
to pay attention and rehearse the information
2. Storage Decay – memories that are not used and
rehearsed are forgotten (do you remember freshman
(Ebbinghaus curve)
3. Retrieval Failure – inability to “locate” memories; tip
of the tongue phenomenon; commonly associated with
memory loss in old age.
Interference – learning that interferes with retrieving
other information
Proactive interference (forward acting interference) the
disruptive effect of prior learning on the recall of new
Retroactive interference (backward-acting interference)
the disruptive effect of new learning on the recall of old
Positive Transfer: Mastery of one task aids learning or
performing another. Ex?
Negative Transfer: Mastery of one task conflicts with
learning or performing another. Ex?
Seven Sins: As you know, not all the information you
learn will stick in your brain. According to Daniel
Schacter, this is the result of one of the “seven sins of
 Transience
 Absent-mindedness
 Blocking
 Misattribution
 Suggestibility
 Bias
Expectancy Bias: A memory tendency to distort
recalled events to fit one’s expectations.
Self-consistency Bias: A commonly held idea
that we are more consistent in our
attitudes and beliefs, over time, than we
actually are.
 Persistence
Motivated Forgetting (repression) – it has been
suggested that people repress memories that are painful or
that conflict with their self-image. For example, if I view
myself as a kind and caring person, I may forget about the
cruel things I did to my sister as a child.
Memory Construction – Do we create false memories?
Misinformation Effect – If we are primed with
misleading information, we are likely to incorporate it
into our memory; As we retell stories, we will fill make
guesses about memory gaps. These guesses then become
part of our memory.
Korsakoff’s syndrome: Brain disorder from prolonged
loss of vitamin thiamine as in diet of chronic alcoholics
– Extreme degree of memory loss
– Often engage in confabulation – cannot
remember ending to a statement so make it up;
an exaggerated version of normal reconstruction
Source Amnesia – Attributing an event to the wrong
source. This could be attributing an imagined event to
real life or attributing a story read in a book to your own
How can we tell if memories are true or false?
The hippocampus is equally active when a person
recounts true and false memories. However, other areas
(such as association areas) are only active when a person
recounts a true memory.
Eye Witness Accounts
 Self-assurance and confidence are NOT good
indicators of how likely one’s memories are to be
 Hypnotically refreshed memories are susceptible to
the misinformation effect (from leading questions)
and are not more likely to be true than other
 Eyewitness testimony is most likely to be accurate if
a neutral person who asks non-leading questions
performs the interview.
Richard Atkinson and Richard Shiffrin
George Sperling
George Miller
Fergus Crick and Robert Lockhart
Karl Lashley
Daniel Schacter
Hermann Ebbinghaus
Elizabeth Loftus and John Palmer
What are the differences between implicit and explicit
Roger is at a wedding reception where he has been
introduced to over 50 guests whom he has never met. He
can remember only a handful of names. Describe the role
that sensory storage, short-term memory, and long-term
memory play for Roger in this situation.