Chapter 9 Notes: Memory – COMPLETE NOTES VERSION 1
Memory allows you to recognize friends, neighbors, and acquaintances and call them by their name; to knit, type, drive, and play the piano, and to speak your language. Our memory accounts for time and defines our life. Everything that we do revolves around some type of memory. You are what you remember. If there was no memory, you would live in an enduring present and even be a stranger to yourself.
The Phenomenon of Memory
Memory is an indication that learning has persisted over time. It is our ability to store and retrieve information. Suffering a stroke, the ability to make new memories was cut off, while old memories still lingered. On the other hand, Russian journalist S, he only had to listen and would remember everything, didn’t even have to take notes.
Your memory is best in a recall of unique and highly emotional points in your past. For example, people remember where they were on Kennedy’s assassination and Princess Diana’s death, and the tragic 9/11 crashes. This perceived clarity for our memories of surprising, significant events leads some psychologists to call them flashbulb memories.
But sometimes, even these memories are wrong, such as George Bush mistaking where he was on the morning of 9/11.
Our memory, in some ways, is like a computer’s information processing system. We must get information into our brain (encoding), retain that information (storage), and later get it back out (retrieval). Same way the computer encodes, stores, and retrieves information. It translates input (keyboard) into an electronic language, such as the brain encoding sensory information into a neural language. Our memories are less literal and more fragile than a computer, of course. We process information in parallel – many things at once.
Three – Stage Processing Model – Atkinson and Shiffrin proposed that we first record to-be-remembered information as a fleeting sensory memory, which is later processed into a short-term memory where we encode it through practice for long – termmemory and later retrieval. Some information will skip the first two stages and is put into long – term memory automatically – subliminally. We put out attention on certain incoming stimuli – often important ones. These stimuli, along with the information from our long – term memory, become conscious short – term memories. This zone is a site where we rehearse and manipulate information. The content of working memory quickly fades unless we keep using or rehearsing it. Working memory involves both hearing and seeing elements, controlled by a central executive processor. These separate mental subsystems allow us to process images and words at the same time, ex. why we can talk and drive at the same time. The working memory components is the reason why we cant figure out the tune to a song when listening to another. If it is in our working memory, all of the loves work on it (frontal, parietal, and temporal).
How We Encode – Automatic Processing
You automatically process information about:
1. Space – often encode the place on a page where certain material appears.
2. Time – You unintentionally note the sequenced of the day’s events. Lost your coat, you retrace back your steps to find it.
3. Frequency – you effortlessly keep track of how many times things happen, ex. “I ran into you twice today!”
All of this processing goes on without our need to pay attention to it, and you can’t shut it down.
Some processing requires attention and effort when we first perform them, but with experience and practice, it becomes automatic. Ex. learning how to read, how to drive.
Learning a chapter in school requires effort and attention. Effortful processing often produces durable and accessible memories through rehearsal, or conscious repeating. Ebbinghaus, scientist of memory, needed to find verbal material that was not familiar. So, he formed a list of all possible nonsense syllables made by putting a vowel between two consonants. The, he would randomly select a sample of syllable and would read aloud, eight times the list. The day after learning the list, he could only recall a few of them. The more frequently he repeated the list aloud on day 1, the fewer repetition he required to relearn the list on day 2. The amount remembered depends on the time spent learning. Even after we learn, additional rehearsal (over learning) increases retention.
1. The next-in-line effect: When people go around a circle saying names or things, their poorest memories are for what was said by the person just before them.
2. Information processes just before sleep is seldom remembered. Consciousness fades before processing information, all is lost. An hour before sleep is well remembered.
3. Taped information during sleep is registered by the ears, but not remembered. “Sleep learning” does not work. We retain information better when our rehearsal is distributed over time (called the Spacing Effect).
The longer the space between practice session, the better their retention up to 5 years later. Restudying material for comprehensive final exams, review courses, and senior examinations will enhance lifelong retention. Spreading out learning, rather than over shorter terms – also helps. Those who learn quickly also forget quickly, also – Spaced study beats cramming.
Experimenters show people a list of items and have asked them to recall in any order. They struggle and show the serial position effect, remembering the last and first items better than ones in the middle. Ex. In a new job and meeting everyone for the first time, the first names will stick and the middle ones will dry out.
What we Encode – Encoding Meaning
When processing verbal information for storage, we usually encode its meaning, associating it with what we know. We tend not to remember things as exactly as they were. Rather, we remember what we encoded. When asked to recall what we have read, we talk about the mental model in our heads, not the actual words. Visual encoding (images), Acoustic encoding (sounds), and Semantic encoding (meaning) have their own brain system. Acoustic helps the memory of rhyming anaphorisms. The deeper, semantic encoding, yields much better memory than the shallow processing of acoustic and visual encoding. When something is meaningful and people are familiar with the items, processs, you remember a lot more. That might be why there are benefits to rephrasing what we read. Leaning meaningful material required 1/10th the effort. We have very good recall for information we can relate to ourselves. To talk about adjectives describing ourselves, we remember the words well – the self – reference effect.
Our earliest memories – something that happened at age 3 or 4 involve visual imagery, mental pictures. We remember concrete words that lead themselves into mental images rather than abstract words. Memory for concrete nouns is aided by encoding them both semantically and visually. We sometimes recall our experiences with metal snapshots of the best and worst moments. Rosy retrospection – where people tend to recall events such as a camping holiday more positively than they thought at the time. Mnemonic – used to remember lengthy passages, imagining themselves moving through a series of locations, associating each place with a topic to be remembered. So, the speech giver would mentally revisit each location. “peg word system” – first memorize a jingle and every word in that jingle will stand for something such as a topic.
Organizing Information for Encoding
We more easily recall information when we can organize it into meaningful units, or chunks. Chunking occurs naturally that we take it for granted, English learners have a harder time. We all remember information best when we can organize it into personally meaningful arrangements, such as a basketball game. Chunking also aid our recall of unfamiliar material, such as the use of acronyms such as Pemdas for the Order of Operations in math.
When people develop expertise in an area, they process information not only in chunks but also in hierarchies composed of a few broad concepts divided and subdivided into narrower concepts and facts. In this way, we retrieve information efficiently. Ex. Taking lecture and text notes in outline format – type of hierarchical organization – may be helpful.
Sperling’s experiment of flashing words at only 1/20th of a second shows that we have a fleeting photographic memory called iconic memory, lasting no more than 1/10th of a second. Delayed signal by more than half a second, iconic memory would be gone. Echoic memory – sensory of auditory stimuli, recalled within 3 or 4 seconds. Ex. “what did I just say?”
Working/Short – Term Memory
Unless our working memory meaningfully encodes or rehearses that information, it quickly disappears from our short – term memory. Without active processing, short – term memories are limited. Not only is it limited in duration but also in capacity. It only stores seven or so bits of information, which is the capacity. Short – term recall is slightly better for random digits than for random letters, which sometimes have similar sounds. At any given moment, we can consciously process only a very limited amount of information.
Long – Term Memory
Our capacity for storing long – term memory is limitless. For some time, memory researchers believed that brain stimulation during surgery provided evidence that our whole past is in there. When Penfield electrically stimulated different cortical regions of his patients’ brains, patients heard things and it was because he was activating long – lost experiences, but this was wrong. Memories do not reside in single spots and we do not store most information with the exactness of a tape recorder. Memory trace has been focused on the biological synapses.
Given increased activity in a particular pathway, neural interconnections strengthen. Increased synaptic efficiency makes for more efficient neural circuits. The sending neuron needs less prompting and the receing neuron’s receptor sites increase. This prolonged strengthening of potential neural firing, (long – term potentiation), providing a neural basis for learning and remembering associations. Drugs that block LTP can’t learn maze but when given LTP, learn it faster. People are competing to develop memory – boosting drugs, the target group being Alzheimer’s disease patients. Boosting CREB production lead to increased production of proteins that reshape synapses and consolidate a short – term memory into a long – term memory. You can also boost glutamate, which enhances synaptic communications.
Stress Hormones and Memory
The stress hormone that people produce is glucose, to fuel the brain. Also, the amygdale boosts activity. Arousal can sear certain events into the brain, while disrupting memory. Stronger emotional experiences make for stronger, reliable memories. Weaker emotion makes wear memories. This is why we remember exciting or shocking events better. But, there are limits to stress – enhanced remembering. Prolonged stress, can act like an acid, corroding neural connections and shrinking a brain area (hippocampus) that is vital for laying down memories.
Storing Implicit and Explicit Memories
Amnesia – which people are unable to form new memories. Jimmie had brain damage, had no memories which meant no sense of time. Although incapable of recalling new facts or anything they have done recently, but they can learn. They can learn and solve puzzles through learning without awareness of having learned them. In some ways, they are people who cannot recognize faces but shown familiar faces, have an unconscious recognition. Because of this, it seems that we have two memory systems. They can learn how to do something (implicit memory/ procedural memory) but not know and declare that they know (explicit memory/ declarative memory).New explicit memories of names, images, and events are laid down via the hippocampus, a neural center in the limbic system. When forming a memory, they reveal activity in hippocampus as well as in certain areas of the frontal lobes. Damage to the hippocampus disrupts things; damage to the left is having trouble remembering verbal information, while the right has trouble recalling designs and locations. In hippocampus, one part is active in names with faces, while others in spatial arrangements. If people lose hippocampus to surgery, they lose most of their recall for things learned during the preceding month. The greater the hippocampus activity during sleep after a training experience, the better the next day’s memory. Our memories are not in one place, many brain regions are active as we encode, store, etc. The cerebellum plays a key role in forming and storing the implicit memories created by classical conditioning, such as being pricked by a doctor accidentally under hand and not wanting to shake hands afterward. Humans with a damaged cerebellum are incapable of developing certain conditioned reflexes. Implicit memory formation needs the cerebellum.
Retrieval: Getting Information Out
To most people, memory is recall, the ability to recognize information not in conscious awareness. Long after not being able to recall most of the people in a yearbook, you can still recognize their yearbook picture from a photograph lineup and pick their names from a list of names. They couldn’t recall any but they could recognize 90% of their pictures and names. Relearning – memory measure that assesses the amount of time saved when learning material for a second time. Our recognition memory is impressively quick and vast.
When you encode into memory a target piece of information, you associate with it other bits of information about your mood, surroundings, etc. This other information are like tags, hints, or marks on the information bit. The best retrieval cues, not the mnemonic devices, but the association formed at the time we encode a memory, and those cues can be experiences as well as words. To retrieve a specific memory from the web of association, you need to activate one of the strands leading to it, process called priming. Priming is often “memory less memory” – invisible memory.
When you need to sharpen pencil, you might go into another room and wonder why you are there. Then, when you go back, the pencil comes back to your mind. These are called context effects. Sometimes, being in a context similar to one we’ve been in before may trigger the experience of déjà vu – the eerie sense of “Ive been here before” . It happens most commonly to well – educated, imaginative young adults. So, if in a similar context you see a stranger who looks and walks like one of your friends, the similarity may give rise to the eerie feeling of recognition. A situation can also seem familiar when moderately similar to several events. Imagine meeting a family, you might have dejavu meeting the cousin.
Moods and Memories
An emotion is like a library room into which we place memory records. What we learn in one state – joyful, sad, drunk, sober – is sometimes more easily recalled when we are again in that state, called state – dependant memory. We seem to associate good or bad events with their emotions, which are retrieval cues. So, our memories are mood- congruent. Being depressed sours memories by giving negative associations, and vice versa. Depressed people recall their parents as rejecting, punitive, etc because of this. Moods also influence how we interpret other people’s behavior. Being mindful of our feelings can help us correct for the mood bias. When happy, you recall happy events and when sad, recall sad moments.
A good memory is helpful, but so is the ability to forget. The seven ways our memory fails us:
1. Absent – mindedness – inattention to details produces encoding failure (mind is elsewhere as we lay down car keys)
2. Transience - storage decay over time (part way with people, unused information fades)
3. Blocking – inaccessibility of stored information (see old classmate, feel name on tip of tongue
4. Misattribution – confusing the source of information (putting words in someone else’s mouth
5. Suggestibility – effects of misinformation
6. Bias – belief – colored recollections
7. Persistence – unwanted memories
We cannot remember what we fail to encode, because the information never enters long – term memory. Much of what we sense, we never notice. An example of encoding failure is the recognition of pennies. In the figure of 15 pennies, most people cannot recognize the real penny. The details of a penny are not meaningful, nor are they essential and so; few of us have made efforts to encode them.
Forgetting Curve – indicates that much of what we learn we may indeed quickly forget. The course of forgetting is initially rapid, and then levels off with time. Compared with people just completing a high school Spanish course, people who had been out of school for 3 years had forgotten much of what they had learned. After 3 years, it leveled off. One explanation for this is a gradual fading of the physical memory trace. Even if memories are stored and available, it may be inaccessible. Perhaps, you lack the information needed to open it up and retrieve it. Ex. The name on the tongue. Forgetting is often not memories discarded but memories unretrieved
Learning some items may interfere with retrieving others, especially when the items are similar. Such proactive (forward – acting) interference occurs when something you learned earlier disrupts your recall of something you experience later. Retroactive (backward – acting) interference occurs when new information makes it harder to recall something you learned earlier. You can minimize retroactive interference by reducing the number of interfering events, going for a walk or sleep shortly after learning something new. Forgetting occurred more rapidly after being awake and involved with other activities. Interference is an important cause of forgetting; why ads viewed during violent or sexual TV programs are so forgettable. But, this is not always true in the case of knowing Latin can help you learn French – positive transfer.
People unknowingly revise their own histories. To remember our past is often to revise it. With his concept of repression, Freud proposed that our memory systems do indeed self – censor painful information. To protect our self – concept and to minimize anxiety, we supposedly repress painful memories. The submerged memory lingers can be retrieved by some later cue or during therapy.
Misinformation and Imagination Effects – Memory Construction
We often construct our memories as we encode them, and we may also alter our memories as we withdraw them from our memory bank. In a car accident report, when asked how fast they hit/smash to each other – the smashed participants gave higher estimates. People have witnessed an event, received or not received misleading information about it, and then taken a test and the repeated result is a misinformation effect. After exposure to subtle misinformation, many people misremember. As a memory fades with time following an event, misinformation becomes easier. As we recount an experience, we fill in memory gaps with plausible guesses and assumptions. After more retellings, we often recall the guessed detail, which have now been put into our memories. Even repeatedly imagining nonexistent actions and events can create false memories .Imagined events seem more familiar and familiar things seem more real. Thus, the more vividly people can imagine thing, the more likely they are to inflate their imaginations into memories. Even psychologists are not immune to memory construction.
When we encode memories, we distribute different aspects of them to different parts of the brain. Among the frailest parts of a memory is its source, ex. Not knowing where you have seen a person. Source Amnesia – attributing to the wrong source an event we have experience, heard about, read about, or imagined.
Discerning True and False Memories
Unreal memories can feel like real memories. Memories are akin to perceptions – perceptions of the past. People’s initial interpretations influence their perceptual memories. We also cannot judge a memory’s reality by its persistence. Memories we derive from experience have more detail than memories we derive form imagination. Memories of imagined experiences are more restricted to the gist of the supposed event. Gist memories are durable and when therapists ask for this, they have the chance of getting false memories. False memories created by suggested misinformation and misattributed sources may feel as real as true memories, and very persistent. The most confident and consistent eyewitnesses are the most persuasive, but not the most accurate. This type of misinformation can lead to the idea of people getting sent to the police because they look like a rapist or a wanted person.
Children’s Eyewitness Recall
In the cases of sexual abuse, interviewers who ask leading questions can plant false memories. Children tend to be suggestible, and so, they can be induced to report false events. Nevertheless, if questioned about their experience in neutral words they understand, children often accurately recall what happened and who did it. 4 – to 5 year old children produce more accurate recall. Children are especially accurate when involved adults have not talked with them prior to the interview an when their disclosure is made in a first interview. Given such detailed stories, professional psychologists who specialize in interviewing children were often fooled. They could not reliably separate real memories from false ones.
Repressed or Constructed Memories of Abuse?
Many patients exposed to such techniques (such as “you were probably abused” do form an image of a threatening person. With further visualization, the image grows more vivid, leaving the patient stunned, angry, and ready to confront or sue the equally stunned and devastated parent, relative, or clergy member. The presumed abuser then vigorously denies the accusation. Those committed to protecting abused children and those committed to protecting wrongly accused adults agree on the following:
1. Injustice happens – some innocent people have been falsely convicted. 2. Incest and other sexual abuse happen. 3. Forgetting happens – abused children can forget their traumatic experience. 4. Recovered memories are commonplace. 5. Memories “recovered” under hypnosis or the influence of drugs are especially unreliable. 6. Memories of things happening before age 3 are unreliable. 7. Memories, whether real or false, can be emotionally upsetting.
1. Study repeatedly to boost long – term recall
2. Spend more time rehearsing or actively thinking about the material
3. Make the material personally meaningful
4. To remember a list of unfamiliar items, use mnemonic devices,.
5. Refresh your memory by activating retrieval cues.
6. Recall events while they are fresh, before you encounter possible misinformation.
7. Minimize interference
8. Test your own knowledge, both to rehearse it and to help determine what you do not yet know.
Without self – testing, one can easily become overconfident. “To be conscious that you are ignorant is a great step to knowledge.”
Chapter 9 Outline – COMPLETE NOTES VERSION 2