Learning Objectives:                                                                                             

a.      Explain memory in terms of information processing and distinguish between short-term and long-term memory.

b.     Distinguish between automatic and effortful processing and discuss the importance of rehearsal.

c.     Explain the importance of meaning, imagery , and organization in the encoding process.

d.     Explain why the capacity to forget can be beneficial and discuss the role of encoding failure in the process of forgetting.

e.      Describe the limited nature of sensory and short-term memory.

f.       Describe the capacity and duration of long-term memory and discuss the physical changes that may underlie memory formation and storage.

g.     Distinguish between implicit an explicit memory and identify the different brain structures associated with each.

h.     Contrast recall, recognition, and relearning measures of memory.

i.        Describe the importance of retrieval cues and environmental and emotional effects on retrieval.

j.        Identify the most effective study strategies.



“And if it is necessary to rearrange one’s memories…then it is necessary to forget that one has done so.”

          George Orwell, Nineteen Eighty-Four, 1948


I.                   Memory

Definition: The persistence of learning over time through the storage and retrieval of information.


a.      Flashbulb memory – a clear memory of a significant moment or event



II.                Memory as information processing


a.      Encoding – the processing of information into the memory system – get information into our brain


                                                              i.      Automatic processing – unconscious encoding of incidental information – space, time, and well learned information such as word meanings


                                                            ii.      Effortful processing – encoding that requires attention and conscious effort


1.     rehearsal – the conscious repetition of information


2.     spacing effect – distributed study or practice yields better long-term retention than massed study or practice


3.     serial position effect – tendency to recall the last and first items in a list


                                                          iii.      Strategies


1.     encoding meaning – associating with what we already know or imagine


2.     encoding imagery – mental pictures aid in effortful processing


3.     Mnemonics – memory aids, especially those techniques that use vivid imagery and organizational devices


                                                         iv.      Organizing information for encoding


1.     Chunking – organizing items into familiar, manageable units; often occurs automatically


2.     hierarchies – few broad concepts divided and subdivided into narrower concepts and facts


b.     Storage – the retention of encoded information over time


                                                              i.      Sensory memory – immediate initial recording of sensory information in the memory system


1.     iconic – visual

2.     echoic – auditory


                                                            ii.      Short-term memory – activated memory that holds a few short items briefly – information then stored or forgotten


                                                          iii.      Long-term memory – relatively permanent, limitless storehouse of the memory system


                                                         iv.      Implicit memory – retention without conscious recollection (nondeclarative)


                                                           v.      Explicit memory – memory of facts and experiences that one can consciously know and “declare” (declarative)


                                                         vi.      Hippocampus – located in limbic system that helps process explicit memories for storage


c.     Retrieval – the process of getting information out of memory


                                                              i.      Recall – retrieve information learned earlier


                                                            ii.      Recognition – identify items previously learned


                                                          iii.      Relearning – time saved when learning material for a second time


                                                         iv.      Retrieval cues


1.     priming – the activation, often unconsciously, of particular associations in memory


2.     context effects


a.      dιjΰ vu – “I’ve experienced this before” – cues from the current situation may subconsciously trigger retrieval of an earlier experience


3.     moods and memories


a.      mood-congruent memory – tendency to recall experiences that are consistent with current good or bad mood


d.     Forgetting


                                                              i.      Encoding failure

                                                            ii.      Amnesia – loss of memory


                                                          iii.      Retrieval failure


1.     Interference


a.      proactive – prior learning disrupting recall of new information


b.     retroactive – new learning disrupting recall of old information


2.     Motivated forgetting


a.      Repression – psychoanalytic theory – defense mechanism that banishes anxiety-arousing thoughts, feelings, and memories from consciousness



III.             Improving Memory – Study aids


a.      Study repeatedly to boost long-term recall


b.     Spend more time rehearsing or actively thinking about the material


c.     Make the material personally meaningful


d.     To remember a list of unfamiliar items, use mnemonic devices


e.      Refresh your memory by activating retrieval cues


f.       Minimize interference


g.     Test your own knowledge, both to rehearse it and to help determine what you do not yet know








Quiz J

True or False:


1. Memory is never automatic; it always takes effort.


2. After we have learned material, additional rehearsal or overlearning can actually decrease our ability to recall it later.


3. Memory aids that use imagery and devices for organization are no more useful than simple rehearsal of information.


4. Only a few people have any type of photographic memory.


5. Although our capacity for storing information is large, we are still limited in the number of permanent memories we can form.


6. Our experiences are etched on our brain, just as the grooves on a tape receive and retain recorded messages.


7. When people learn something while intoxicated, they recall it best when they are again intoxicated.


8. The hour before sleep is a good time to commit information to memory.


9. With sufficient prompting, most people can recall experiences form the first two years of life.


10. Children typically will repress any memory of having seen one of their parents being murdered.