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Learning Objectives
• What is the general orientation of the
information-processing model to cognition?
What are the specific components of the
model and how does information “flow”
through the system?
Information Processing Approach
• Reflects the “Cognitive Revolution”
– Used computer as model
• Hardware is the computer itself
• In humans it is the brain
• Software programs; e.g., word
• In humans: How information is
registered, interpreted, stored, retrieved
and analyzed
Memory Systems
• Sensory Register: fleeting
– With attention, encoding occurs
• Storage
– Short-term memory limited to 7 items
– Working memory: active STM
– Long-term memory relatively permanent
• Retrieval
– Recognition; recall; cued recall
A model of Information Processing
Implicit and Explicit Memory
• Implicit Memory
– Unintentional, automatic
– Information from everyday experiences
– Does not change over lifespan
• Explicit Memory
– Deliberate, effortful
– Increases from infancy to adulthood
Problem Solving
• Using the information processing system to
reach a goal (solve a problem)
• Executive Control Processes
– Selection from storage
– Planning, monitoring, interpreting, etc.
– Parallel processing
Rather than sequential tasks
Problem Solving 2
• Possible difficulties for young children
– Not paying attention to relevant aspects
– Unable to hold info in working memory
– Lack strategies for:
• Transfer from STM to LTM
• Retrieval from LTM
– Not enough knowledge to understand
Learning Objectives
• How do researchers assess infant memory?
• What information can infants typically
What are the limitations of infants’ memory?
The Infant
• Imitation
– Of facial expressions by 6 weeks
– Deferred imitation by 6 months
• Habituation present at birth
• Operant Conditioning
– Ribbon & mobile task
– Cued recall: kick when ribbon attached
Learning Objectives
• What are the four major hypotheses about
why memory improves with age?
Is there evidence to support each
Four Hypotheses
• Dramatic improvements in learning, memory
and problem solving
Four major hypotheses as to why
1) Changes in basic capacities?
• Not storage or senses
• Changes in speed allow parallel
• Automaticity frees working memory
Four Hypotheses (continued)
2) Do memory strategies change?
– Rehearsal by age 7
– Organization by age 10
– Elaboration later
– Retrieval strategies
• External cues needed when younger
Four Hypotheses (continued)
3) Changes in knowledge about memory?
• Metamemory: Knowledge of memory
– Present in young children
– Awareness of memory processes is
beneficial even to young children
– Gets better with age
– Experience is important
Four Hypotheses (Continued)
4) Changes in world knowledge?
– Yes. Knowledge base clearly affects
learning and memory
– Domain familiarity and expertise
• E.g., Chi (1978) study of Chess
Learning Objectives
• When do autobiographical memories begin
and what possible explanations can account
for childhood amnesia?
How do scripts influence memory?
How do problem solving capacities change
during childhood?
What explanation does Siegler propose for
changes in problem solving?
Autobiographical Memories
• Infantile Amnesia before age 2–3
– Lack of language
– Fuzzy trace theory
• Scripts: Typical sequence of actions
– Affect memory
• Eyewitness Memory
– Improves with age; younger suggestible
– Accuracy better with open questions
Changes in Problem Solving
• Improves with age in childhood
• New cognitive structures (Piaget)
• Rule Assessment (Siegler)
– Use of multiple strategies produces best
strategy (most adaptive strategy)
• More efficient strategies
• Natural Selection
– Most adaptive strategy survives
Learning Objectives
• What developments occur in the information
processing abilities of adolescents?
• New strategies emerge (elaboration)
• Better use of strategies
• Basic capacities increase (e.g., speed)
• Knowledge base increases
• Metacognition improves
Learning Objectives
• In what ways do memory and cognition
change during adulthood?
What are the strengths and weaknesses of
older adults’ abilities?
What factors help explain the declines in
abilities during older adulthood?
What can be done to minimize losses with
How are problem-solving skills affected by
Adulthood—Developing Expertise
• Domain specific knowledge base increases
• Strategy Use
– More organized
– More elaborative techniques
– Also domain specific
• Automaticity of more information
• Autobiographical: Memory from age 15-25 is
higher than from other points in life
Memory and Aging
• Older adults learn more slowly
• Remember less learned information
– Declines by age 70
– Timed tasks, unfamiliar tasks
– Recall versus Recognition
– Explicit memory tasks more trouble
– Cognitively demanding tasks
Explaining Declines
• Negative beliefs affect memory skills
• Strategy use not spontaneous
• Attention becomes more effortful (motivation)
• Processing speed decreases
• Sensory, health, and lifestyle changes
• Cohort differences (age and IQ)
• Declines NOT universal
Declines in memory skills in old age are not universal. In deaf culture and in Chinese
culture, elderly people are not stereotyped as forgetful or senile. Perhaps as a result,
Chinese elders perform almost as well as young Chinese adults on memory tasks,
whereas in the United States, elders, especially in the hearing population, perform poorly.
Problem Solving
• Unfamiliar tasks more difficult
• Meaninglessness a problem
• Contextual view
– Evaluate nature of the task
• Is speed required?
• Unfamiliar, unexercised skills
– Consider individual differences
• Everyday functioning maintained