7.2 | Encoding and Retrieving Memories Flashcards Preview

🚫 PSY100H1: Introduction to Psychology (Winter 2016) with J. Vervaeke > 7.2 | Encoding and Retrieving Memories > Flashcards

Flashcards in 7.2 | Encoding and Retrieving Memories Deck (11):


  • storage: the time and manner in which information is retained between encoding and retrieval 


Rehearsal: The Basics of Encoding

  • is rehearsal (or learning by rote) effective? research has shown that it's a resounding "no"
  • it's not how long we rehearse information, but rather how we rehearse it that determines the effectiveness of memory
  • maintenance rehearsal: prolonging exposure to information by repeating it 
    • does relatively little to facilitate encoding that leads to the formation of long-term memories
  • elaborative rehearsal: prolonging exposure to information by thinking about its meaning 
    • this strategy greatly improves the process of encoding


Levels of Processing

  • not all elaborative encoding is created equal
  • levels of processing (LOP): this framework begins with the understanding that our ability to recall information is most directly related to how that information was intitally processed
    • shallow processing: involves more superficial properties of a stimulus, such as the sound or spelling of a word
    • deep processing: generally related to an item's meaning or its function
    • in tests, people were almost seven times more likely to recall a deep-processed word than a shallow level one
    • STM memories are unaffected by shallow or deep processing
  • self-reference effect: when you think about information in terms of how it relates to you, or how it's useful to you
  • survival processing: when items are processed as they relate to survival, they're more likely to be recalled



  • recognition: identifying a stimulus or piece of information when it is presented to you
    • e.g. identifying someone you know on the bus (or in a police lineup) or multiple-choice test questions
  • recall: retrieving information when asked, but without that information being present during the retrieval process
    • e.g. describing a friend’s appearance to someone else or short-answer questions on an exam 
    • recall is helped when retrieval cues (i.e. hints) are presented to help our memory
  • encoding specificity principle: retrieval is most effective when it occurs in the same context as encoding 


Context-Dependent Memory

  • context-dependent memory: retrieval is more effective when it takes place in the same physical setting (context) as encoding
    • both controlled laboratory studies and studies involving dramatic environmental manipulations have shown that matching the encoding and retrieval contexts leads to better recall of studied material
    • Godden and Baddeley (1975): memorizing and recalling words on land and underwater
    • brain-imaging studies have found increased activity in the hippocampus and parts of the pre-frontal cortex when retrieval conditions match the context in which the memory was encoded
    • recognition memory (e.g. multiple-choice questions) is not significantly helped by context
    • the presence of the item (e.g., a photograph or one of the options on a test question) serves as a very strong retrieval cue; context doesn't add much beyond this cue
    • however, returning a person to the context where they encoded increases the number of false positives
  • context-dependent forgetting: the change in the environment influencing forgetting; e.g. walking into a room and then forgetting why you're there
  • context-reinstatement effect: when you return to the original location and the memory suddenly comes back


State-Dependent Learning

  • research suggests that retrieval is more effective when your internal state matches the state you were in during encoding, i.e. state-dependent memory 
  • Goodwin and colleagues (1969): experiment where participants got drunk, and those who performed both trials drunk outperformed those who were only drunk for one of the sessions
  • this effect appears to be strongest for declarative memory (e.g. recall), the form of memory that requires the participant to generate the response on their own


Mood-Dependent Learning

  • people remember better if their mood at retrieval matches their mood during encoding
  • however, changes in intensity of the mood do not have an effect
  • mood-dependent memory has some limitations; it has a very small effect on recognition memory and much larger effects on recall-based tests
  • it produces larger effects when the participant must generate both the to-be-remembered information (e.g.,“an example of a musical instrument is a g________”)


Emotional Memories

  • the events that first come to mind in your memory are often emotional in nature (e.g. a wonderful birthday party or the fear of starting a new school)
  • this is because emotional stimuli and events are generally self-relevant and are associated with arousal responses such as an increase in heart rate and sweating
  • emotion’s largest influence is on the process of consolidation, when information that has recently been transferred from STM into LTM is strengthened and made somewhat permanent 
  • emotion can influence memory consolidation even if the stimuli themselves are not emotional in nature 
  • emotions can lead to stronger memory formation, even if the information is not directly related to the emotional event 
  • emotional memories often activate the amygdala, whereas non-emotional memories generated at the same time do not 
  • activity in the amygdala then influences the firing patterns of other temporal-lobe structures, including the hippocampus; this link is a major part of the emotion-memory relationship  


Flashbulb Memory

  • flashbulb memory: an extremely vivid and detailed memory about an event and the conditions surrounding how one learned about the event 
  • one defining feature of flashbulb memories is that people are highly confident that their recollections are accurate; but is this confidence warranted?
    • in one experiment, groups of students were asked to recall the events of 9/11, and another equally memorable event from the preceding week
    • although their memory for both events was fading at the same rate and they were equal in accuracy, the students acknowledged the decline in memory only for the mundane events
    • they continued to feel highly confident in their memories surrounding the September 11 attacks, when, in fact, those memories were not any more accurate


The Forgetting Curve: How Soon We Forget

  • Ebbinghaus (1885): experiments about remembering and how long it took before he forgot something
  • the forgetting curve shows that most forgetting occurs right away, and that the rate of forgetting eventually slows to the point where one doesn't seem to forget at all


Mnemonics: Improving Your Memory Skills

  • mnemonic: a technique intended to improve memory for specific information 
  • method of loci: a mnemonic that connects words to be remembered to locations along a familiar path
    • to use the method of loci, one must first imagine a route that has landmarks or easily identifiable spaces
    • once the path is identified, the learner takes a moment to visually relate the first word on the list to the first location encountered
  • acronyms: pronounceable words whose letters represent the initials of an important phrase or set of items 
    • e.g. "Roy G. Biv" for the colours of the rainbow
  • first-letter technique: uses the first letters of a set of items to spell out words that form a sentence
    • e.g. "My Very Educated Mother Just Served Us Nachos" for the planets of the solar system
  • dual coding: when information is stored in more than one form
    • e.g. singing the ABCs
    • the simplest explanation for the dual-coding advantage is that twice as much information is stored 
  • while mnemonic devices can help with rote memorization, they may not improve your understanding of material
  • testing effect: the finding that taking practice tests can improve exam performance, even without additional studying 

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