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Brain Training Memory Three tasks/jobs: 1. Encoding a. Select stimulus from background b. Identify characteristic (sound, smell, texture, taste, pain…) c. Label or mentally tag the experience. i. Encoding is automatic and rapid in many instances – you don’t have to “Try” to remember. 1. What did you have for breakfast? ii. Concepts – like what was covered in your biology class – require deliberate encoding to make usable memory. 1. Elaboration – connect new concept with what you already know. Make it personal, explicit examples. 2. Storage a. Retention of encoded material over time (MCATs, GREs, Final exam) 3. Retrieval a. Ability to access information stored. How memories are formed Three stages 1. Sensory – few seconds – holds sensory impressions (sights, sounds, smells, textures) a. Largely unconscious, but can tell its effect by sparklers/moving flash light. b. 12 – 16 items, but can only hold onto 3 or 4. c. Allows working mem. to screen incoming stimuli for important info. 2. Working memory – the important info sent to working memory. a. Attaches meaning to stimuli or incoming info. (car is getting closer and closer….) i. Working memory interacts with sensory to determine importance b. Makes connections with items in long term. c. Holds info 20-30 seconds. d. This is where we think about things from long-term. e. Intermediary among all parts of memory. f. Only 7 (+-2) (5-9) items or chunks. i. Phone numbers: 10 digits or 3 chunks? 3. Long-term memory – receives info from working mem. and store it for long periods of time – can be lifetime – no limit. a. Picture it as huge web of interconnected associations. b. With good retrieval cues – better navigate that web. c. Unlimited storage capacity! d. LTM = scaffold – more associations, more info it can hold. e. Two main components of LTM i. Procedural memory (knowing how to do something, motor skills (skiing, playing an instrument) 1. At first – conscious of every step, later operates on edge of consciousness. ii. Declarative memory (knowing what) – facts, impressions, events. 1. Semantic – meanings of words, concepts. Resembles database. 2. Episodic – temporal coding, when, where something took place. f. Danger! Schemas – clusters of knowledge – allow us to fill in holes of memories. i. Eg – birthday party – image and information based on personal experience. ii. Helpful (give meaning to new info) but can lead you astray. Working memory tricks of the trade We don’t have that much capacity – when full, brain drops earlier items to process new items. This is why talking on phone and driving so problematic. 1. Chunks and Chunking – unit of information. a. Gets more info into working memory – concept can be one chunk. b. Think social security number, phone numbers etc… 2. Maintenance Rehearsal – repeating over and over (like a grocery list) – keeps it in working memory longer, but not good way to put into long term! 3. Elaborative rehearsal – actively connecting to existing knowledge in long-term. a. Associate new material to something it logically brings to mind. b. Personal examples of concepts. c. Caution – make sure you get it right the first time! 4. More connections you make to existing knowledge, more likely you will be to remember it. Retrieving Memories - the more connections to a concept, the easier it will be to retrieve. 1. Meaningful organization – taking the time to make information meaningful in working memory will help it to be stored in LTM. The more connections you make, the more doors there are to the information. Two ways to retrieve memories 1. Recall – essay, short answer tests require that you recall information with minimal cues. The answer must be constructed almost entirely by memory. 2. Recognition – multiple-choice tests use recognition to cue memories. Usually less demanding, but can get you introuble. How to approach studying for most efficient learning 1. Memorizing lists – Mnemonics a. method of loci -Visual imagery one of the most effective forms of encoding. b. Natural language mediators – (roy g biv), silly story, rhymes (I before c except after C), Mitosis/Meiosis. 2. Learning and remembering concepts – a. Make information meaningful. i. Meaningless information more likely to be forgotten than meaningful information. ii. Construct Big Picture iii. Study Groups b. Elaborative rehearsal – work with material, do not just read it (more later) c. Distributed learning - Serial position effect – we are more likely to remember the beginning and the end. The middle gets lost. i. Break up studying into chunks. ii. Review frequently and often – review after lecture, clarify points. Review well before exam. d. Test yourself. What retrieval cues do you expect? 3. Distracted learning – lowers efficiency. a. Experiment: 30 min videotaped lecture. Students divided up into 3 groups; 8 text messages, 4 text messages, 0 text messages. Given an test on lecture content. The more interruptions, the worse they scored on the test. The students who responded to the texts did much worse than the students who waited until the end of the lecture to respond. b. If learn while distracted – understand and remember less (shallower comprehension, not as able to transfer/extend knowledge). c. Mental exhaustion – each time you switch focus, you must refamiliarize yourself, this takes effort. d. Impaired memory e. Solution: reward your focus. Focus for 45 min, then reward yourself with checking your phone. Address the anxiety of not being connected. Factors that impact retrieval – alertness, stress level, drugs, general knowledge. 1. Encoding specificity – the more closely retrieval cues are to information, easier it is to remember. a. When something is out of context, hard to remember (seeing your professor at a grocery store) b. When studying, anticipate cues. Organize learning around those cues. i. Don’t just read book. ii. Interact with material in different ways – diagram, summarize, discuss. iii. More connections – easier retrieval.