Chapter 7 - Memory

1. Memory: is the retention of information or experience over time.

2. Encoding: the process by which information gets into memory storage.
  • Attention – the brains resources are limited so because of this we have to be selective to what we pay attention to because we can not remember everything.
    • Divided attention occurs when a person must attend to several things simultaneously
  • Levels of Processing –the idea that encoding occurs on a continuum from shallow to deep, with deeper processing producing better memory.
    • Shallow level; the sensory or physical features of stimuli are analyzed
    • Intermediate level; the stimulus is recognized and given a label.
    • Deepest level; information is processed semantically, in terms of its meaning. This is where we make associations. The more associations we make the deeper the processing.
    • If you encode something meaningful about something and make associations with it, you are more likely to remember it.
  • Elaboration –the extensiveness of processing at any given level
    • Examples, self-references and search processes are effective ways to elaborate information.
      • Thinking of examples of a concept is a good way to understand it.
      • Elaboration adds to the distinctiveness of “memory codes”.
      • As encoding becomes more elaborate more information is stored. And as more information is stored, the more likely it is that the code will be distinctive.
  • Imagery - using imagery, or mental pictures, as a context for information can improve memory.


3. Memory storage__: Encompasses how information is retained over time, and how it is represented in memory.
  • Sensory memory- memory system that involves holding information from the world in its original sensory form for only an instant, not much longer that the brief time it is exposed to the visual, auditory, and other senses.
    • Echoic memory- refers to auditory sensory memory
      • Retained for up to several seconds
    • Iconic memory- refers to visual sensory memory.
      • Retained for only about a quarter of a second.
      • As one of the sensory memories, this is the one that is more easily and quickly forgotten
  • Short-term memory- is a limited-capacity memory system in which information is usually retained for only as long as 30 seconds
    • George Miller’s study in 1956 showed that people can only remember things as in social security numbers and phone numbers because thdory.jpgey are 7±2 digits.
    • Chunking: grouping or “packing” information that exceeds the 7±2 memory span into higher-order units that can be remembered as single units
    • Rehearsal: the conscious repetition of information
      • Information stored in short-term memory last half a minute or less without rehearsal
      • If rehearsal is not interrupted, information can be retained indefinitely
    • Working memory- a three part system that temporarily holds information as people perform cognitive tasks
      • Phonological loop- specialized to briefly store speech-based information about the sounds of language
      • Visuospatial working memory- stores visual and spatial information, including visual imagery.
      • Central executive- integrates information not only form the phonological loop and visuospatial working memory but also from long-term memory

  • Long-term memory: A relatively permanent type of memory that stores huge amounts of information for a long time
    • Explicit memory (declarative memory)- the conscious recollection of information, such as specific facts or events and, at least in humans, information that can be verbally communicated. elephant.gif
    • Episodic memory- the retention of information about the where, when, and what’s of life’s happenings.
    • Semantic memory- is a persons knowledge about the world. It includes the areas of expertise, generall knowledge of the stuff you are learning in school, and your everyday knowledge about the meanings of words, famous individuals, important places, and common things
    • Implicit memory (non-declarative)- is the type of long-term memory that is related to non consciously remembering skills and sensory perceptions rather than consciously remembering facts
      • Memory in which behavior is effected by prior experience without a conscious recollection of that experience
      • Procedural memory: memory for skills
      • Priming: activation of information that people already have in storage to help them remember new information better and faste
  • How Memory is Organized
    • Schemas- a preexisting mental concept or framework that helps people to organize and interpret information
    • Script- a schema for an event.
        • Often have information about physical features, people, and typical occurrences.
  • Where Memories are Stored
    • Neurons and memory
      • Many scientists believe that memory is located in specific sets or circuits of neurons


Memory Retrieval

· Memory retrieval takes place when information that was retained in memory comes out of storage.
· To retrieve something from your mental data bank, you search your store of memory to find the relevant information, similar to that of a library.
· You can retrieve memories instantly.
· Yet retrieval of memory is a complex and sometimes imperfect process.
· Memory retrieval depends heavily on the circumstances under which a memory was encoded and the way it was retained
A) Serial Position Effect
· Serial position effect is the tendency to recall the items at the beginning and end of a list more readily than those in the middle.
· Primacy effect refers to better recall for items at the beginning of a list
· Recency effect refers to better recall for items at the end
· With the respect to the primacy effect, the first few items in the list are easily remembered because they are rehearsed more or because they receive more elaborative processing then do words later in the list.
· Working memory is relatively empty when the items enter, so there is little competition for rehearsal time.
· Both primacy and recency can influence how we feel about stimuli as well.
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B) Retrieval Cues and the Retrieval Task
· Two other factors are involved in retrieval: the nature of the cues that can prompt your memory and the retrieval that you set for yourself.
· We can learn to generate retrieval cues.
· One good strategy is to use different sub categories.
· Although cues help your success in retrieving information also depends on the retrieval task you set for yourself
1) Recall and Recognition
· Recall is a memory task in which the individual has to retrieve previously learned information as on essay tests.
· Recognition is a memory test in which the individual only has to identify learned items as on multiple choice tests
2) Encoding Specificity
· Encoding specificity principle states that information present at the time of encoding or learning tends to be effective as a retrieval cue.
3) Context At Encoding and Retrieval
· An important consequence of encoding specificity is that a change in context between encoding and retrieval can cause memory to fail.
· Context dependent memory states that people remember better when they attempt to recall information in the same context in which they learned it.
· Such features can later act as retrieval cues.
C) Special Cases of Retrieval
· Our memories are affected by a number of factors, including the pattern of information we remember, schemas and scripts, the situation we associate with memories, and personal or emotional context.
· Such moments provide convincing evidence that memory may well be best understood as reconstructive, this subjective quality of memory certainly has implications for important day to day procedures such as eyewitness testimony.
· While the factors that we have discussed so far relate to the retrieval of genetic information, various kinds of special memory retrieval also have generated a great deal of research.
· These memories have special significance because of their relevance to the self, to their emotional or traumatic character, or because they show unusually high levels of apparent accuracy.
1) Retrieval of Autobiographical Memories
· Reminiscence bump, the effect that adults remember more events from the second and third decades of life than from other decades.
· This reminiscence bump may occur because these are the times in our life when we have many novel experiences or because it is during our teens and 20’s that we are forging a sense of identity.
· Most abstract level consists of life time periods; for example you might remember something about your life in high school.
· The middle level in the hierarchy is made up of general events such as a trip you took with your friends after you graduated from high school.
· The most concrete level in the hierarchy is composed of event- specific knowledge; for example from your postgraduate trip, you might remember the exhilarating experience you had the first time you jet-skied.
· When people tell their life stories, all three levels of information are usually present and intertwined.
· Most autobiographical memories include some reality and some myth.
· They provide a reconstructed embellished telling of the past that connects the past to the present.
2) Retrieval of Emotional Memories
· When we remember our life experiences the memories are often wrapped in emotion.
· Emotion affects the encoding and storage of memories and thus shapes the details that are retrieved.
· Flashbulb memory is a memory of emotionally significant events that people often recall if more accuracy and vivid imagery than every day events.
· These memoires seem to be part of an adaptive system that fixes a memory the details that accompany important events so that they can be interpreted in a later time.
· However flashbulb memories probably are not as accurately etched in our brain as we think.
· Still on the whole, flashbulb memories do seem more durable and more accurate than memories of day-to-day happenings.
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3) Memory for Traumatic Events
· In 1890, the American psychologist and philosopher William James said that an experience so emotionally arousing that it almost leaves a scare on the brain.
· There is good evidence that memory for traumatic events are usually more accurate than memory for ordinary events.
· Usually memories of real life traumas are more accurate and longer lasting than memories of everyday events.
· Where distortion often arises is in the details of the traumatic episode.
· Stress related hormones likely play a role in memories that involve personal trauma.
· The release of stress related hormones, signal by the amygdale likely accounts for some of the extraordinary durability and vividness of traumatic memories.
4) Repressed Memories
· Repression is a defense mechanism by which a person is so traumatized by an event that he or she forgets it and then forgets the act of forgetting.
· According to psychodynamic theory, repressions main function is to protect the individual from threatening information.
· Motivated forgetting occurs when something is so painful or anxiety-laden that remembering it is intolerable.
· This type of forgetting maybe consequence of the emotional trauma experience by victims of rape or physical abuse, war veterans or other terrifying events.
· Even when people have not experienced trauma, they may use motivated forgetting to protect themselves from memories of painful, stressful, or otherwise unpleasant circumstances.
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5) Eyewitness Testimony
· Eyewitness testimonies, like other sorts of memories, may contain errors.
· Much of the interests in eyewitness testimony focuses on distortion, bias, and inaccuracy in memory.
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· Human memory has its imperfections as we have all experienced.
· Hermann Ebbinghaus was the first person to conduct scientific research on forgetting.
A) Encoding Failure
· Sometimes when people say they have forgotten something they have not really forgotten it; rather they never encoded the information in the first place.
· Encoding failure occurs with the information was never entered into long term memory.
B) Retrieval Failure
· Problems from retrieving information from memory are clearly examples of forgetting.
· Psychologists have theorized that the causes of retrieval failure include problems with the information in storage, the effects of time, personal reasons for remembering or forgetting, and the brains condition.
1) Interference
· Interference theory states people forget not because memories are lost from storage but because other information gets in the way of what they want to remember.
· There are two kinds of interference: proactive and retroactive.
· Proactive interference occurs when material that was learned earlier disrupts the recall of material learned later.
· Retroactive interference occurs when material learned later disrupts the retrieval of information learned earlier.
· Retrieval cues can become overloaded, and when that happens we are likely to forget or retrieve incorrectly.
2) Decay
· Another possible reason for forgetting is the passage of time.
· Decay theory states when we learn something new, a neurochemical memory trace forms, but over time this trace disintegrates.
· Memories often do fade with the passage of time, but decay alone cannot explain forgetting.
· Under the right retrieval conditions, we can recover memories that we have seem to have forgotten.
3) Tip-of-Tongue Phenomenon
· TOT or tip-of-the-tongue phenomenon a type of effortful retrieval that occurs when we are confident that we know something but cannot quite pull it out of memory.
· This phenomenon rises when we can retrieve some of the desired information but not all of it.
· This phenomenon demonstrates that we do not store all the information about a particular topic or experience in one way.
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4) Prospective Memory
· Retrospective memory is remembering the past.
· Prospective memory involves remembering information about doing something in the future; that includes memory for intentions.
· Prospective memory includes both timing-when we have to do something- and content-what we have to do.
· Time base prospective memory is our intention to engage in a given behavior after a specified amount of time has gone by.
· Event base prospective memory we engage in the intended behavior when some external event or cue elicits it.
5) Amnesia
· Amnesia is the loss of memory.
· Anterograde amnesia is a memory disorder that affects the retention of new information and events.
· Retrograde amnesia involves memory loss for a segment of the past but not for new events.
· Retrograde amnesia is much more common anterograde and frequently occurs when the brain is assaulted but an electrical shock or a physical blow.
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Study Tips from the Science of Memory

1) Organize
· The first step in improving your academic performance is to make sure that the information you are studying is accurate and well organized.
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2) Encode
· Once you insure that the material to be remembered is accurate and well organized it is time to memorize.
· Pay attention, process information at an appropriate level, and use imagery.
3) Rehearse
· Learning material initially related you your life and attend to examples that help you do so.
· After class rehearse the course material over time to solidify it in memory, rewrite, type, or retype your notes.
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4) Retrieve
· To retrieve efficiently use retrieval cues, sit comfortably, take a deep breath, and stay calm.
· Memory is crucial for learning an academic success but it also serves many other purposes.

Memory and Health and Wellness

· Autobiographical memory allows us to understand ourselves and provides us with a source of identity.
A) Keeping Memory Sharp- and Preserving Brain Function
· As a process rooted in the brain, memory is also an indicator of brain functioning.
· The phrase “use it or lose it” applies to memory.
· Research has suggested that a active mental life leads to the accumulation of a “cognitive store” – and emergency stash of mental capacity that allows individuals to avoid the negative effects of harm to the brain.
· In addition to educational achievement stain physically active also seems to play a role in maintaining a sharp mind.
B) Memory and the Shaping of Meaningful Experiences
· We all have certain particularly vivid autobiographical memories that stand out as indicators of meaning.
· The process of attention and encoding that we have explored in this chapter suggests that actively engaging in life- investing ourselves in the events of the day-is the way we can be assured that our life stories are rich and nuanced.
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Questions and Answers!

1) What is flashbulb memory?
· Is the memory of emotionally significant events that people often recall with more accuracy and vivid imagery than everyday events.
2) The serial position effect is the what?
· Is the tendency to recall the items at the beginning and end of a list more readily than those in the middle.
3) What is anterograde amnesia?
· A memory disorder that affects the retention of new information and events
4) What are some ways you can rehearse to help encode into your memory?
· Rewrite, type, or retype your notes, and test yourself.
5) What are some ways that we can be assured that our life stories are rich and nuanced?
· Actively engaging ourselves in life, and investing ourselves in the events of the day!


1. What are the three levels of processing?
A: Shallow, intermediate, and deepest level

2. Which type of sensory memory is retained the longest: echoic memory or ionic memory?
A: Echoic memory

3. What is the term that explains grouping information that exceeds the 7±2 memory span?
A: Chunking

4. What are the three systems in working memory?
A: Phonological, visuospatial, and central executive

5. What are schemas?
A: a preexisting mental concept or framework that helps people to organize and interpret information