PSYCHOLOGY: Chapter 10 - Memory and Thought Lecture Notes
* Bold print denotes an item not in the text.
"Memory is the treasury and guardian of all things."
- Cicero (Roman orator)
Alzheimer's Disease: currently an irreversible, incurable condition that destroys a person’s ability to think,
remember, relate to others, and care for herself or himself.
Memory: the storage and retrieval of what has been learned or experienced.
Information: any event that reduces uncertainty.
3 processes of memory:
- Encoding: the transforming of information so the nervous system can process it.
* role of the senses: You use your senses - hearing, sight, touch, taste, temperature, and others to encode and
establish a memory.
* Selective attention: your ability to pick and choose among various inputs.
+ Selective attention does not completely block out other programs or stimuli.
* Feature Extraction: The identification and analysis of specific elements of a sensory input.
^ 2 benefits
1.) Helps you identify it
2.) Helps compare it to other inputs
^ 2 points on Feature Extraction:
* Depends to some degree on knowing what to look for.
* It is an evaluative process.
* acoustic codes: are being used when you try to remember something by saying it out loud, or to
* visual codes: are being used when you attempt to keep a mental picture of the letters, you trying to
* semantic codes: are being used when you try to remember the letters by making sense of them.
* when encoding takes place: Encoding occurs when the senses receive a stimulus and convert the
sensation into neural impulses. It occurs to enter information from
short-term memory into long-term memory.
- Storage: the process by which information is maintained over a period of time.
* amount: How much information is stored depends on how much effort was put into encoding the information
and its importance.
* 3 levels of information prioritization:
1.) Basic needs, (hunger, sleep, and thirst)
2.) Strangeness or novelty
- Retrieval: the process of obtaining information that has been stored in memory.
* basis for ease of retrieval: It depends on how efficiently it was encoded and stored (as well as on other
factors, such as genetic background).
3 types of memory
1.) sensory memory
2.) short-term memory
3.) long-term memory
- sensory memory: very brief memory storage immediately following initial stimulation of a receptor.
* duration: a fraction of a second
* Major point: An input in sensory storage has not been narrowed down or analyzed. It is a
short-lived but highly detailed photograph or audio recording - that rapidly fades.
There was an example of the uses of sensory storage performed in the 1950's using subliminal advertising.
* subliminal advertising: the attempt to influence people with messages that are below normal
thresholds of detection.
^ Movie theater example: "commercials" inserted in every so many frames of film. It
greatly influenced the audience to purchase concession items.
* George Sperling, (1960): used a tachistoscope to present a group of letters and numbers for a 20th of a
second. Previous studies showed that people had been able to remember 4 or 5 items.
Sperling believed that people took a mental picture before the memory faded.
Psychologists refer to this visual sensory memory as iconic memory.
He changed the experiment to add tones to the flash of the slide. A high tone was used
for those on the top row, medium tone for those on the middle row and a low tone for
those on the bottom row. Once people learned the system, they could remember 75% of
He proved that the participant retains a brief image of the whole picture so that he or she can
still read off the items in the correct row after the picture has left the screen. Psychologists
refer to auditory sensory memory as echoic memory.
^ tachistoscope: a quick slide projector
* iconic memory: hold visual information for up to a second.
* echoic memory: a type of sensory memory that holds auditory information for 1 or 2 seconds.
* haptic memory: a type of sensory memory that holds tactile (touch) information for a few seconds.
* gustic memory: a type of sensory memory that holds taste information for a few seconds.
* olfactic memory: a type of sensory memory that holds smell information for a few seconds.
* 3 purposes sensory memory serves:
1.) Sensory memory prevents you from being overwhelmed.
Since the information in sensory memory is short-lived, anything that you do not pay attention to
vanishes in seconds.
2.) Sensory memory gives you some decision time.
The information in sensory memory is there for only a few seconds—just long enough for you to decide
whether it is worth paying attention to this nformation.
3.) Sensory memory allows for continuity and stability in your world.
Difference between short-term memory and sensory storage: The information held momentarily by the senses has not yet been narrowed down or analyzed.
It is short-lived, temporary, and fragile. However, by the time information gets to short-term
memory, it has been analyzed, identified, and simplified so that it can be
conveniently stored and handled for a longer time.
Short-term memory: memory that is limited in capacity to about seven items and in duration by the subject’s active rehearsal.
- 2 methods to improve STM: Rehearsal and chunking
- Maintenance rehearsal: a system for remembering that involves repeating information to oneself without attempting to find
meaning in it.
* use: By using maintenance rehearsal, you can keep the information longer in short-term memory.
Without rehearsal, new information stays in short-term memory for less than 30 seconds.
- How psychologists measure short-term memory: by seeing how long a participant can retain a piece of information without rehearsal.
* CPQ/798 experiment: The experimenter shows the participant three letters, such as CPQ, followed by three numerals, such as 798,
one second later. To prevent rehearsal, the participant has been instructed to start counting backward by threes
and reporting the result in time with a metronome striking once per second.
^ metronome: An instrument designed to mark exact time by a regularly repeated tick.
If the participant performs this task for only a short time, she or he will usually remember the letters. If
kept from rehearsing for 18 seconds, however, recall will be no better than a random guess; the information
Conclusion: Short-term memory lasts a bit less than 20 seconds without rehearsal.
- chunking: the process of grouping items to make them easier to remember.
* The most common example: a phone number.
* Acronyms: initials that represent words and can be easily remembered.
FBI - Federal Bureau of Investigation
CIA - Central Intelligence Agency
MADD: Mothers Against Drunk Driving
* George Miller, (1966): found that the limit of short-term memory is seven items (plus or minus two items). Each item may consist of
a collection of many other items, but if they are all packaged into one "chunk" then there is still only one
item as far as the memory is concerned.
- 13 points on STM:
1.) The things you have in your conscious mind at any one moments are being held in short-term memory.
2.) Short-term memory does not necessarily involve paying close attention.
3.) To keep information in short-term memory for more than a few seconds, you usually have to repeat the information to yourself or out loud.
4.) Short-term memory is limited in capacity to only about seven unrelated items.
5.) We may not notice this limited capacity because we usually do not have to store so many unrelated items in our immediate memory.
Either the items are related (as when we listen to someone speak), or they are rehearsed and placed in long-term memory.
6.) Each chunked item may consist of a collection of many other items but since they are all packaged into one chunk, the brain views it as
only one item.
7.) Even with chunking, storage in short-term memory is only temporary.
8.) Information is available, generally, for less than 20 seconds and no more than 30 seconds, assuming no rehearsal has occurred.
9.) Short-term memory contains information that is of possible interest.
10.) Information worth holding on to must be rehearsed with the intent to learn in order to transfer it to long-term memory.
11.) Rehearsal without intent to learn yields no transfer.
Primacy-recency effect: refers to the fact that we are better able to recall information presented at the beginning and end of a list.
- primary effect: means you may be able to remember the first few items in a list because you had more time to rehearse them.
- recency effect: means you may be able to recall the last four or five items in a list because they were still accessible in short-term memory.
Working memory: serves as a system for processing and working with current information.
- what it includes: It includes both short-term memory (events that just occurred) and information stored in long-term memory, now recalled for
Long-term memory: refers to the storage of information over extended periods of time.
- 6 points:
1.) You reconstruct what you must recall when you need it.
2.) LTM's capacity appears to be limitless.
3.) LTM contains representations of countless facts, experiences, and sensations.
4.) Long-term memory involves all the processes of memory.
5.) The least important information is dropped and only the essentials are retained.
6.) More recently stored items block access to earlier memories or may even replace them.
- Flash bulb memory phenomenon: is centered on a specific, important, traumatic or surprising event. The memory is so vivid that it
represents a mental snapshot.
* Examples: the assassination of President John F. Kennedy, death of Princess Diana, or 9/11.
Endel Tulving, (1972): Canadian psychologist who proposed that there are two types of long term memory - semantic and episodic.
1.) Semantic memory: our knowledge of language, its rules, words, and meanings.
2.) Episodic memory: our life's experiences/memories. Stored here are things where time of occurrence is important. Everyone’s
episodic memory is unique.
Squire (1987): proposed another model of memory.
- Declarative (explicit) memory: both semantic and episodic memory. The knowledge you call forth consciously and use when needed.
- Procedural (implicit) memory: does not require conscious recollection to have past learning or experiences impact our performance.
* 5 types
1.) Skills: easy and complex activities. As we gain a skill, we gradually lose the ability to describe what we are doing.
Examples: tying shoes or driving a car.
2.) Priming: filling in the blanks like when playing Hangman.
5.) Things learned through classical conditioning.
Prosopagnosia: peculiar condition in which the patient is unable to recognize familiar faces- even his or her own. They can still perceive other aspects of
faces, like if someone is happy or sad. This condition demonstrates how remarkably narrow or selective memory problems
can sometimes be.
- usual cause: stroke or head injury
Neuropsychologists: Scientists who study the basic physical processes of the brain, and focus on those processes controlled by the nervous system. They are particularly interested in understanding the neurological basis of human behavior. They often work in hospitals and universities, and some work for pharmaceutical companies where they assess and develop new drugs for psychological care and treatment.
*** This is one of the fastest growing specialties in psychology today.
2 theories on how the brain stores long-term memory:
1.) When memory is stored there is a change in the neuronal structure of nerves. (a change in the synapse -the gap between neurons)
2.) Learning is based on molecular or chemical changes in the brain. (increased protein production)
5 parts of the brain involved with memory:
1.) Cerebral cortex
- Cortex with LTM: Our ability to remember words, facts, and events (declarative memory) from the past depends on activity in the
- Cortex with STM: Our ability to remember words, facts, and events (declarative memory) in short-term memory depends on activity
in the cortex.
- Thalamus: Our ability to process sensory information, crucial to creating memories, depends on the thalamus.
- Amygdala: Our ability to associate memories with emotions (emotional associations) depends, to a large
degree, on the amygdala.
- Hippocampus: Our ability to transfer words, facts, and events (declarative memory) from short-term into long-term memory depends on
activity in the hippocampus.
- Striatum: area where there is evidence that the formation of procedural memories occurs.
Neurons: individual nerve cells
4 ideas on how connections between neurons are formed: It is clear that a very complex chemical process precedes the formation of new connections
1.) increased calcium
2.) decreased potassium flow.
3.) increased protein synthesis
4.) heightened levels of glucose
Stored information: is useless unless it can be retrieved from memory
Tip-of-the-tongue phenomenon: when you try to remember something but cannot quite do so. Later, in a different situation, the information you were
looking for earlier comes to you.
Problem of memory: is to store many thousands of items in such a way that you can find the one you need when you need it.
Importance of organization: The solution to retrieval is organization. Because human memory is extraordinarily efficient, it must be
extremely well organized.
2 types of retrieval: recognition and recall
- recognition: memory retrieval in which a person identifies an object, idea, or situation as one he or she has or has not experienced before.
* examples: name of your first-grade teacher, a multiple choice test, songs on the radio, sound of a particular musical or a person’s features.
* easiest type of retrieval: Recognition is the easiest type of memory retrieval.
- recall: memory retrieval in which a person actively reconstructs previously learned material.
* 3 areas of involvement: our knowledge, attitudes, and expectations.
* remembering as an active process: Remembering is an active process guided by our experience, knowledge, and cues we receive from the
- reconstructive processes: the alteration of a recalled memory that may be simplified, enriched, or distorted, depending on an
individual’s experiences, attitudes, or inferences.
- confabulation: the act of filling in memory with statements that make sense but that are, in fact, untrue.
- schemas: conceptual frameworks a person uses to make sense of the world. They are sets of expectations about something that is based on our
* Loftus and Palmer, (1974): conducted a classic study on the roles that schemas play in memory reconstruction.
(The two-car accident and use of loaded words.)
^ conclusion: the schemas people used - whether the cars were "contacted", "hit", "bumped", or "smashed" affected the way they
reconstructed the crash.
^ Loaded words: terms or phrases packed with emotional and/or double meanings.
- eidetic memory: the ability to remember with great accuracy visual information on the basis of short-term exposure. Also called photographic memory.
*** A person with eidetic memory does not have to use recall or recognition.
* % of children who have it: About 5%
* in adults: extremely rare
* in talented individuals: It is said that many famous artists and composers possibly had eidetic memory.
+ 5 examples:
1.) Claude Monet (painter)
2.) Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart (musician)
3.) John von Neumann (mathematician)
4.) Stu Ungar (world's most successful poker player)
5.) Bobby Fischer (chess genius)
Mnemonist: someone with an incredibly accurate memory.
Five factors that affect retrieval:
3.) lack of interference
4.) degree of original learning
5.) use of mnemonic devices
Autobiographical memory: People tend to forget more quickly information that does not correspond with their own images of themselves.
As a person’s self-image changes, so does the information he or she recalls about the past.
State-dependent memory: occurs when you recall information easily when you are in the same physiological or emotional state or setting as you were when
you originally encoded the information.
Gordon Bower: THE authority on state-dependent memory. He has done more research on memory than any other psychologist has. His explanation
for this mood-dependent recall is that the mood (emotional state) serves as a cue for retrieving information. When a memory is
stored, it is associated with a specific emotion as well as with specific actions or people. The emotional state later functions as a
marker in our memory of the specific event. When we are in the same mood, we are more likely to be able to find things the
memory has thus marked.
- Sirhan Sirhan: In 1981, Bower interviewed and hypnotized Sirhan Sirhan, the assassin of Senator Robert Kennedy in 1968. Fully
conscious Sirhan denied having any knowledge of the murder, but when hypnotized, and placed in the same emotional
state as on the assassination date, he could remember vivid details of the crime.
- Using state-dependent memory: You can use the concept of state-dependent memory to help you maximize your recall of material.
Make sure you study in the same emotional state as you will be in when you take the test.
Relearning: is a measure of both declarative and procedural memory. (This explains why things are easier the second time around.)
Eyewitness Testimony Handout
Forgetting: when information that once entered long-term memory is unable to be retrieved.
- 3 types:
- William James Quote: "Forgetting is as important as recollecting. . . . If we remembered every thing, we should be as ill off as if we
remembered nothing. It would take as long for us to recall a space of time as it took the original time to elapse and
we should never get ahead with our thinking."
* Meaning: Both memory and forgetting are necessary functions win the human brain.
Decay: fading away of memory over time.
- 6 points:
1.) Items quickly decay in sensory storage and short-term memory.
2.) Long-term memories may never decay.
3.) A blow to the head or electrical stimulation of certain parts of the brain can cause loss of memory.
4.) The memories lost are the most recent ones - older memories seem to remain.
5.) The fact that apparently forgotten information can be recovered through meditation, hypnosis, or brain stimulation suggests that at least
some memories never decay.
6.) Interference or repression causes people to lose track of memories.
3 ways to retrieve "lost" memories: through meditation, hypnosis, or brain stimulation.
Interference: blockage of a memory by previous or subsequent memories.
- 2 types: proactive and retroactive
* proactive interference: occurs when an earlier memory blocks you from remembering related new information. (when a earlier memory
does the blocking)
* retroactive interference: occurs when a later memory or new information blocks you from remembering information learned earlier.
(when a later memory does the blocking)
* as separate concepts: Proactive interference does not lead to retroactive interference; the two are separate concepts.
- permanency: It may be that interference actually does erase some memories permanently. In other cases the old data may not be lost. The information
is probably in your memory… somewhere.
Sigmund Freud: Psychologist who pioneered the study of the unconscious mind.
- repression: occurs when a person may subconsciously block memories of an embarrassing or frightening experience. The material still exists
in the person’s memory, but it has been made inaccessible because it is so disturbing.
* Freud's Quote: "Sometimes blocking is no accident."
False Memory Syndrome (Repressed Memory): is the term for the hypothesis describing a state of mind wherein sufferers have a high number of
highly vivid but false memories, often of abusive events during their childhood.
This condition has been studied, and some sufferers have confessed to “entirely made up stories.”
However, the DSM-IV does not recognize FMS, although the forgetting of traumatic events
constitutes several of the manual's diagnostic criteria for PTSD.
- DSM-IV: The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM), published by the American Psychiatric Association, is the
standard classification of mental disorders used by mental health professionals in the United States. The DSM consists
of three major components: the diagnostic classification, the diagnostic criteria sets, and the descriptive text.
- Post-traumatic stress disorder: a disorder in which victims of catastrophes or other traumatic events experience the
original event in the form of dreams or flashbacks
- Debate: The debate over FMS centers largely around the topic of child abuse, wherein alleged victims are said to experience
dissociation, which causes repression of the traumatic memory until later in life, when the memory resurfaces either
naturally or with the aid of a professional. Many advocates of FMS argue against both methods of memory
recovery, claiming that such professionals as therapists and psychiatrists accidentally implant false memories.
Amnesia: is a loss of memory.
- 4 causes:
1.) a blow to the head
2.) brain damage
3.) as the result of drug use
4.) severe psychological stress
Infant Amnesia: is the relative lack of early declarative memories prior to age two or three years old.
- 4 theories:
1.) Freud thought that infant memories are repressed because of the emotional traumas of infancy.
2.) Because infants do not yet understand language, their memories are nonverbal, whereas later memories are verbal (once language is learned).
3.) That the hippocampus may not be mature enough in infancy to spark memories.
4.) Infants have not yet developed a sense of self to experience memories.
2 bases for improving memory: efficient organization and chunking.
Maintenance rehearsal: a system for remembering that involves repeating information to oneself.
- problem with: Words are merely repeated with no attempt to find meaning.
Elaborate rehearsal: the linking of new information to material that is already known.
- 6 points:
1.) The more meaningful something is, the easier it will be to remember.
2.) You remember things more vividly if you associate them with things already stored in memory or with a strong emotional experience.
3.) The more categories a memory is indexed under, the more accessible it is.
4.) If an input is analyzed and indexed under many categories, each association can serve as a trigger for the memory.
5.) If you associate the new information with strong sensory experiences and a variety of other memories, any of these stimuli can trigger
6.) The more senses and experiences you use when trying to memorize something, the more likely it is that you will be able to retrieve it - a key
to improving memory.
* #1 memory trigger: smell
4 ways to prevent interference:
1.) Overlearn the material - to keep on rehearsing it even after you think you know it well.
2.) Avoid studying similar material together.
3.) Distributed practice: spacing out your learning; studying a little at a time.
** Trying to absorb large amounts of information at one sitting results in a great deal of interference.
4.) Degree of original learning - The way you originally learn or remember something influences how readily you recall that information later.
Mnemonic devices: techniques for using associations to memorize and retrieve information.
- 6 types of mnemonic devices:
* Method of Loci: A form of memorization used by the ancient Greeks in which they would learn things in a certain location, then
associating the material with that certain spot.
* Acronyms (the easiest to create)
* Rhymes (fun to remember)
* Make a Story (can take serious time to create)
* Phrases (kind of like acronyms, but longer)
* Mental pictures (like graphic organizers. These work really well for "visual" people)
Mnemonic devices are not magical. Indeed, they involve extra work—making up words, stories, and so on. The very effort of trying to do this, however,
may help you remember things.
8 Memory Tips for Students Handout
Sort Information: Help your retrieval system by putting new information into categories. You can group by dates, people, formulas, etc. It may help to make a chart as you study.
Frequent review: Studying new information the same day you heard or read it will improve memory significantly. A small review each day is essential if you have memory problems.
humor or exaggeration: Information stays in memory longer if it is related
to something novel and interesting. Make up something funny or exaggerated that
ties into what needs to be memorized.
Explore the senses: Try learning the information visually, verbally, and kinesthetically and find which sense works best for you. Some people need to combine two or more senses.
Color code: By using colored pens, highlighters, post-it notes and flags, index cards, etc. you can make an impression on your memory.
This is a way of sorting information for storage as you assign colors.
visual aids: Draw pictures or cartoon characters, graphs, tables, charts,
time lines, etc. to aid memory. Even simple stick figures and drawings are
useful if you are a visual learner. Pay attention to pictures, charts, etc. in
Rehearse aloud: Verbal rehearsal is an effective memory tool. Study with someone or use a tape recorder to say what needs to be memorized aloud.
Make it physical: Adding a physical activity such as pacing, jumping, throwing a ball, or writing enhances the memory for many people. Typing or rewriting notes is a very effective memory device for people who need to learn kinesthetically.