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What is memory?

Memory is any learning that has occurred in the past that persists over time, whether it is for seconds or years.


What are the three components of the information-processing model of memory?

Also called the three-box model, the information-processing model includes:

  1. sensory memory (or sensory register)
  2. short-term memory (or working memory)
  3. long-term memory 


What is the function of sensory memory?

Sensory memory is a buffer between what is in the world and what we actually take into our minds. This information is held for less than a second before it is lost or transferred to short-term memory.


What did Sperling's letter recall study find?

It found that we possess iconic memory, which holds an exact picture of a stimulus in our sensory memory for a split second.


What is echoic memory?

Like iconic memory, echoic memory holds an exact copy of a sound in our sensory memory for a few seconds.


If you are playing a video game and your mother asks you to take out the trash, which are you more likely to pay attention to/remember and why?

The video game will likely be remembered due to selective attention. Selective attention allows us to encode into short- or long-term memory the things that are important to us at the time they enter our sensory memory.


What kind of memory is used when you say a number over and over (rehearsal) before you dial it into your phone?

Short-term memory is used, and lasts in your brain for roughly 10-30 seconds. Information in short-term memory is lost due to interference.


What does George Miller's phrase, "the magical number seven, plus or minus two" refer to?

This phrase refers to the idea of chunking, which states that we can recall roughly seven chunks of information from our short-term memory, plus or minus two chunks.


If we can only hold seven chunks of information in our short-term memory, does that mean we can't remember a list of more than seven words?

No. Bits of information, like words or letters, can be chunked together. This is why we can remember words with more than seven or so letters: the letters are combined into one chunk (the full word).

If we want to remember a list of more than seven words, we can arrange them into fewer than seven categories or chunks.


What kind of memory is used when remembering your own phone number?

Long-term memory, which can last for days, weeks, years, or life. Very little gets transferred from your short-term to your long-term memory.


What are the three types of long-term memory?

  1. episodic memory
  2. semantic memory
  3. procedural memory


What makes episodic memory different from semantic memory?

Episodic memory involves the self, like remembering your first kiss or other episodes from your life.

Semantic memory does not involve the self, but rather facts, like directions from your home to school.


What kind of memory is used when riding a bike?

Procedural memory is the part of long-term memory that remembers how to perform an action.


What kind of memory accounts for the fact that you know how to tie your shoes, even though you can't remember when you learned it?

Implicit memories are unconscious, and sometimes you don't even know you have those memories.


While some amnesics can learn new things, they will not remember how or when they learned these facts. This means they cannot form new __________ memories.



What is another term for photographic memory?

eidetic memory


According to the levels of processing model of memory, why do we remember the plot to a movie we saw a long time ago?

We would remember the movie because we were cognitively invested in it, so it was deeply (or elaboratively) processed.


What is retrieval, and what are the two types of it?

Retrieval is the act of pulling up stored memories for use.

The two types of retrieval are recognition and recall.


What is the difference between recognition and recall?

They are both just as they sound. For example, in an experiment to remember a list of words, recognition is just remembering if you saw a word. Recall is remembering what word you saw. Recognition is much easier than recall.


If you are given a long list of words, you will likely remember the first few and the last few, and forget the ones in the middle. Why?

You remember the first words because nothing else was inhibiting your memory when you learned them (primacy effect).

You remember the last words because they were the ones you learned most recently (recency effect). 

Together, this is known as the serial position curve, or serial position effect.


Who first established primacy, recency, and the serial position curve?

Hermann Ebbinghaus (1850-1909)


"Oh, what's that actress' name? The blonde one, she's in all those romantic comedies, she was married to that other actor, and she was on a soap opera as a kid. Why can't I remember her name?"

What is happening in this sentence?

The tip-of-the-tongue phenomenon is preventing us from recalling information we already know.

The semantic network theory believes we are trying to connect cues we hold about the identity of the actress until we can link the cues to her name, even though we are unable to recall the name immediately.


What is a flashbulb memory?

A flashbulb memory is like your brain taking a picture of an event and storing it in your memory. It can help explain why people can recall where they were during an important event in a culture, like September 11, 2001, or when President Kennedy was killed.


When you are sad, why could your memory make you even sadder?

Mood-congruent memory is the process of recalling memories that match our moods. So if you are sad, you will remember other sad memories, but if you are happy, you will recall other happy memories.


What phenomenon says you should sit in the same seat on a test day that you sat in when you learned the material that will be on the test?

State-dependent learning research shows that we recall memories better when we simulate the environment in which we made them.


Why might someone's previously repressed memory of child abuse be unreliable in court?

Research has shown that memories that have been recovered may actually be constructed (or reconstructed) memories.

Constructed memories can be inaccurate or made up, or they could even have been implanted by a therapist, family member, or from something like a television show, even though the person recalling it believes the memory is accurate.


What is the relearning effect?

When you have learned something before but have forgotten it, it will take less time for you to relearn it than it did for you to learn it the first time.


If you learn two pieces of information and forget the first one, what caused this forgetting?

Retroactive interference caused this. When you learned the second piece of information, it interfered with your ability to recall the first piece of information.


If you learn two pieces of information and forget the second one, what caused this forgetting?

Proactive interference likely caused this. If you learn a song one way and then are asked to sing it a different way, it may be difficult for you to do because your memory of how the song was learned interferes with the new information.


If an amnesic can remember events before he got amnesia (but not after), what kind of amnesia does he have?

Anterograde amnesia prevents patients from making new autobiographical memories, but allows them to recall memories from before the onset of amnesia.