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Processes of
Processes of Memory
Encoding is the process of getting, or putting
information into the memory system
Automatic processing is the unconscious
encoding of information such as space,
time, and well-learned information
Effortful processing is encoding through
a conscious effort
Semantic encoding is encoding with
Encoding is similar to typing, or putting, information on a computer.
You first have to put the information in before you can save it.
If you were asked what you had for lunch earlier in the day you would be
able to remember- you did not memorize the contents of your lunch, but
since it was automatically encoded, without effort you remembered.
Studying information for a test is an example of effortful processing- you
have to make an effort to remember.
Learning the meaning of words is an example of semantic encoding. For
example- you are storing semantic encoding with meaning. In other
words, the term has a definition (meaning) also encoded. For example,
encoding means to put information in
Encoding imagery involves using mental When you try to remember something, often you are trying to remember
pictures in order to remember
a picture, or an image, of the situation. For example, gazing up during a
test you are trying to remember the situation when you learned the termthe imagery of the teacher covering the term.
Rosy retrospection- is the tendency
Some people who are contemplating getting back together with an old
to remember pleasant images and not
girlfriend/ boyfriend may only remember the positives about the
the bad images
relationship- however, once they get back together, they will be reminded
quickly of the negatives
Method of loci is a mnemonic device, Some people, when they go grocery shopping, mentally picture the
or memory aid, which you associate
location of items in their fridge in order to decide what to buy and what
items with the imagery of places.
they already have
Richard Atkinson and Richard Shiffrin developed the information processing model. They believed information is seen
as passing through 3 types of memory stages: sensory memory, short-term memory, and long-term memory
Sensory memory is a brief
George Sperling
Sensory memories have to be very brief as enormous
initial encoding of sensory researched the duration
amounts of sensory information are constantly around us- if
of sensory memory
we take too much time to process certain stimuli we would
miss other stimuli.
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Permission to use for face-to-face instruction with students only.
Iconic memory is a momentary sensory
memory of visual stimuli
Echoic memory is a momentary sensory
memory of auditory memory
Selective attention- paying attention to certain
environmental sensory stimuli is necessary to move the
information to short-term memory, where it will
interpreted or thought about
Our dominant sense is vision, called visual capture. There
is much more to see, which is why iconic memory has to be
very brief, about a few tenths of a second
Echoic memories last about 3-4 seconds, which is why
when you repeat terms you are able to retain the terms
longer- lasts longer than just looking at a term.
There is an enormous amount of sensory information that
surrounds us. What we choose to pay attention to is what we
are going to actually think about in short-term memory. For
example, you hear a weird noise in your bedroom that gets
your attention- now you are paying attention to it
After the weird noise gets your attention, you start to think
what the weird noise can be. This thinking occurs in shortterm memory- you are trying to make sense of the weird
Short-term memory is an active, temporary memory
system where information is processed (making sense
of) resulting in either being passed to the next memory
system and stored permanently in long-term memory,
or never reaching long-term memory and being
George Miller’s “Magical number 7 plus or
The technique of chunking, which is grouping items into
minus 2- short-term memory’s capacity is
meaningful chunks like acronyms, free up space in shortlimited to 7 items give or take 2
term memory/ TGIF is one item rather than 4 items
Maintenance rehearsal is the mental or verbal repeating of
The duration of the time you can work with
a term, resulting in each time repeated increasing the
information in short-term memory is 20 or 30
seconds, resulting in information being either
duration of how long an item is held in short-term memory
transferred to long-term memory or forgotten
Working memory is the active part of short-term memory- the information which you are “working,” or
thinking about
Submitted by Mike McLane, Sterling Heights High School, Michigan:
Permission to use for face-to-face instruction with students only.
Long-term memory is the relatively permanent and
limitless storehouse of memory.
If you were to tell your friend of
Elaborative rehearsal
involves providing meaning
the weird noise in your bedroom
to information, which helps
that occurred the night before,
send, or encode, the
than this is an indication that the
information from short-term noise was stored in long-term
to long-term memory.
Flashbulb memories are vivid, clear memories Flashbulb memories are often remembered because they involve
of an emotionally significant moments or events more parts of the brain in terms of forming the memory.
that are processed in the amygdala, which often Images of 9/11 are flashbulb memories for many people who
ties emotions to this information
witnessed that event
If you had a shed in the backyard and a snowstorm made it
Long-term potentiation is an increase in a
difficult to get to the shed, the more you walked back and forth
neurons’s firing, which involves the
from your house to the shed the easier it would be to get to the
neurotransmitter serotonin, which is linked to
shed. You would have created a path, which you will now each
learning and memory.
time use you have to go to the shed. The is similar to the
*When neurons continue to fire at the same
time the dendrites of each neuron grow, causing process of learning (walking back and forth to the shed) and
forming a memory (the path in the snow)
the synapse, or gap between neurons, to
decrease resulting in a memory trace, or path,
produced in the brain. Each time that memory
is activated, the memory trace is activated,
resembling a path.*
Types of Long term Memories
Explicit memories are also called declarative
Explicit memories have explicit answers, such as your
memories, which involve personal experiences
address, which you have to declare consciously, which
(episodic information) AND general knowledge, like means you have to think in order to remember the
facts (semantic information) Explicit memories have answer.
to be consciously recalled, which means you have to
put some thought into coming up with the answerthese memories are stored in the hippocampus
Submitted by Mike McLane, Sterling Heights High School, Michigan:
Permission to use for face-to-face instruction with students only.
Episodic information are events only you
personally have experienced
Semantic information is general knowledge
and facts that everyone seems to know
Implicit memories are nondeclarative memories,
which involve procedural information containing
motor skills and procedures that do not require active
thinking in order perform- these memories are stored
in the cerebellum
Your life is full of “episodes,” which are personal
memories of your life. This may include your phone
number, birth date, mom’s name
Semantic information involves common knowledge,
or common sense information- like how many tires on
a car, what color is a stop light
Implicit memories
If someone was to ask you how
are “implied”
to write, you would have a hard
memories, which
time explaining the process
means “you just
because the memory for writing
know” how to do,
is implicit- nondeclarativelike walk or ride a
which means you don’t have to
declare or think about the
Each time you learned a motor skill, like tying your
shoe, you learned it as a procedure- “loop and swoop.”
Procedural information involves motor
skills, actions, muscle memory
The Brain and Memories
Explicit memories are processed in the hippocampus, which is the area of the brain responsible for
forming new memories
People who have had damage to their cerebellum have to
Implicit memories are processed in the
cerebellum, which is the area of the brain relearn their implicit memories like walking, writing, riding a
in charge of balance and movement
Organizing long-term memory
Conceptual hierarchy- long-term
A conceptual hierarchy is like a filling system- you create files based
memories are organized into groups on their commonalities- all of your phone bills are in a file, tax bills in
that share similar characteristics or
another file. This is similar to memories- all of your memories about
school are in a file, all of your memories about food are in another file
Submitted by Mike McLane, Sterling Heights High School, Michigan:
Permission to use for face-to-face instruction with students only.
Process of Memory
Semantic network model states that
long-term memories are organized
through a network of associationsmemories are tied, or are linked
together through a characteristic
Priming is an unconscious (does
not require thought- just happens)
process that activates associations
in the semantic network
Retrieval cues are stimuli that help to recall
information from long-term memory and bring
back into short-term memory.
Serial position effect is the tendency to
recall the first (primacy) and last
(recency) items of a list
Encoding specificity principle- when
you store something in memory, the
memory is not just of the item but also the
context in which the memory occurred, or
was being formed
If you think of the color red then you tend to also think of other items
that are tied to red, like a fire truck, apple, stop sign- in other words, red
is associated, or tied to, all of these items
When you think of the color red you automatically (unconsciously,
without thinking,) have the memory of a fire truck or apple. These
memories just “pop-into” to your thinking because they are tied, or
associated with, other memories that have a similar characteristic.
Multiple-choice tests involve recognition of items from long-term
memory- recognizing a term helps to retrieve the memory, or
Essay questions involve free-recall, which often do not provide any
retrieval cues. This is why students do not particularly care for essay
questions because there are limited retrieval cues to access information
in long-term memories.
Fill-in-the-blank questions involve cued recall because the questions by
themselves can cue a memory
People often forget the items in the middle of a list
When you are studying, or trying to encode information into long-term
memory, you are unaware but you are also encoding additional
information, such as a song playing in the background, the color of
your note book. This explains why when you later look at your
notebook; you remember the song playing and what you were studying.
When you were forming a memory of what you had to study, you also
tied to this memory the color of your notebook and the song playing.
That explains why each of these items serves as a retrieval cue for the
other- notebook cues song/ song cues information being studied
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of the
memory is a memory that
involves the context, or
content present, during the
time learning took place.
State-dependent memory
is a memory that is aided
or affected by a person’s
internal or mental state.
Mood-congruent memory
occurs when a person’s
mood serves as a retrieval
Encoding failure occurs when information does
not go from short-term to long-term memory.
Retrieval cue failure, also referred to as tip-ofthe-tongue, occurs when a retrieval cue is not
strong enough to retrieve, or trigger the memory
stored in long-term memory.
Decay theory is the gradual disappearance of a
memory because the memory has not been
thought about, or retrieved, from long-term
memory into short-term memory
You run out of toothpaste as you are getting ready in the morning, so
you remind yourself to buy some on the way home from school.
Throughout the day you forget about the toothpaste until you walk back
into the bathroom. The reason why you remember the moment you
walked into the bathroom is that the bathroom is a retrieval cue because
it is part of the memory to purchase the toothpaste.
If someone were to drink alcohol while having a conversation, then
alcohol will be part of the memory encoding process. Next time that
person drinks alcohol; the alcohol will serve as a retrieval cue for the
When people are happy they often remember other happy memories.
When people fight they often remember other times they fought, which
is why arguments often get worse- past memories of fighting often
arise, or are retrieved.
When you don’t use elaborative rehearsal, or provide enough meaning,
to a term or event, then more than likely it will never be encoded into
long-term memory- you never learned the term. If you don’t care about
something or it does not mean anything to you, then you probably are
not going to remember it
When you are having a conversation and someone asks you about the
time you went to the store, and you can’t remember going to the store,
then that person’s question was not a good enough retrieval cue to
recall the memory of going to the store. If the person then adds more
detail to the question and you are now able to remember going to the
store then the person has strengthened the retrieval cue
If a person does not dial their childhood phone number for a few years,
then the memory of that number will start to decay, or fade away.
However, years can go by where when that person has not thought
about that phone number, when someone suddenly shows it to them,
they instantly recognize it, supporting the fact that long-term memories
are permanent.
Submitted by Mike McLane, Sterling Heights High School, Michigan:
Permission to use for face-to-face instruction with students only.
Hermann Ebbinghaus developed the
After your psychology class is dismissed, the information that you
forgetting curve. He believed information that remember as you walk out of class has been encoded into long-term
will be forgotten is forgotten right away,
memory. The information you cannot remember was probably
information that that is not forgotten right
forgotten as soon as it was presented or taught.
away will be encoded into long-term memory
Interference theory is the process through which either the storage or retrieval of a memory impairs other information and
Proactive interference occurs when previous,
An example of proactive interference is when you try and can’t
old information affects, or interferes, with
remember your NEW locker combination because you keep on
trying to remember new information.
dialing your old locker combination.
Retroactive interference occurs when recently An example of retroactive interference is when you can’t remember
learned new information affects, or interferes,
your OLD class schedule because your new class schedule is
with remembering old information.
interfering, or causing you to forget your old class schedule.
Sigmund Repression occurs when traumatic or
Repression keeps memories in long-term memories without your
painful events are automatically
effort or desire. If someone was to ask you about an event that was
(without your effort) placed in the
repressed then no matter how hard you try you will not be able to
Suppression occurs when you
If someone was to ask you about your ex-boy/girlfriend and you
consciously choose not to remember
choose not to think or talk about it, then you are suppressing the
something, or think about something
memory, or keeping the memory in long-term memory and not
allowing it to enter short-term memory.
Amnesia is the loss of memory
Retrograde amnesia is the inability to recall Retrograde amnesia tends to be temporary. As the brain starts
past memories due to an injury to the head
to heal from an injury, the memories start to come back.
Anterograde amnesia is the inability to form “50 First-dates” is an example of anterograde amnesia- she
new memories due to damage to the
could not form any new memories.
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Memory Construction
Elizabeth Loftus
researched how
memories are
formed and
affected by new
and different
Misinformation effect is when new
information that is presented affects,
or changes, previous or formed
The process of accommodation
incorporates new information,
which often changes
established schemas, the
mental organizations of
information, or what we know
and how we organize the
Lawyers could affect people’s
memories through the types of
questions they ask. When
people are asked a question
that they have not thought
about or considered, then this
new information could change
their schema or what they
know about an event or
thought they knew.
Submitted by Mike McLane, Sterling Heights High School, Michigan:
Permission to use for face-to-face instruction with students only.