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Flashcards in Memory Deck (69)

What are the three stages of memory?

  1. sensory memory
  2. short-term 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 are common properties of sensory memory?

  • very short duration
  • connects memory to perception
  • includes echoic and iconic memory


 What did George Sperling study?

iconic memory


Explain iconic memory.

This is the idea that we have partial photographic memory within our sensory memory. We can see images of letters or numbers and recall them from the image in our brain, but they usually fade too quickly to remember very many. This is called a partial report.


What term did Ulric Neisser coin in the field of visual memory?


An icon is a fleeting visual memory that lasts only about half a second.


If you see a picture, then immediately see another one, you will have weakened memory of the first picture. What is this phenomenon called?

backward masking

The closer the second stiumulus is to the first, the better it will "mask" the first. This is also the case when listening to and remembering sounds.


How does the "rubber pencil" optical illusion work?

Since icons are stored in your sensory memory, the image of the pencil in any of its states remains with you as the pencil moves. The pencil moves quickly enough that you are constantly generating new iconic memories, making the pencil appear rubbery.


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 watching a movie and your roommate asks you to take out the trash, which are you more likely to pay attention to/remember and why?

The movie 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 is the most common example of selective memory? Why do we have selective memory?

The cocktail party effect highlights that a person can attend to one salient message (like their own name) and tune out others. Another example is that we remember things that conform to our own beliefs and forget the things that don't.

People must selectively attend to stimuli because they only have so much capacity.


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 is the type of rehearsal that allows short-term memories to transfer to long-term memory?

elaborative rehearsal


What is the difference between maintenance rehearsal and elaborative rehearsal?

Maintenance rehearsal is simply repeating the stimulus again and again in order to remember it. While maintenance rehearsal is good for rote memorization, elaborative rehearsal organizes the stimulus into something meaningful so that it is processed deeply and remembered better.


To what does George Miller's finding regarding "the magical number seven, plus or minus two" refer?

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.


Since short-term memory is believed to be more auditory than visual, how are stimuli encoded?



What are the types of interference?

proactive interference and retroactive interference


If you learn a song one way and then are asked to sing it differently later, you may have difficulty remembering the new way as you keep remembering the old way instead. What kind of interference is this?

proactive interference

Your original memory of how the song is sung is inhibiting your ability to remember the newer memories of the song.


If your favorite sports team gets newly designed jerseys, you may forget what the old jerseys looked like over time. What kind of interference is occurring?

retroactive interference

New information entering your memory clouds the old memories, inhibiting their recall.


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 measures of memory retention?

  1. recall
  2. recognition
  3. savings (or relearning)


What is recognition?

Recognition is the easiest form of memory retention measurement, since all it requires is someone remembering that they have been exposed to the stimulus before.


What is recall and what are its two types?

In memory tasks, recall is when a participant must restate something learned previously.

  1. Free recall is when the subject is not cued with anything like a word stem or a subject grouping.
  2. Cued recall is when a specific stimulus must be restated, like a fill-in-the-blank question on an exam.


How does savings test long-term memory?

If you learn something, like a language, and then don't use it, some of it will be forgotten. If you study the same language again, it will take less time to learn than it did originally. Savings assesses how much was left in your long-term memory between the first and second time the language was learned.


What principle says that you should take a test in the same seat you were in when you learned the material for the test in order to remember it better?

the encoding-specificity principle


What are the three types of long-term memory?

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


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 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 remembering a fact?

declarative memory


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.


What is an explicit memory?


What two types of memory make up explicit memory?

A memory one can intentionally, consciously recall.


Episodic Memory & Semantic Memory


If an individual can remember events from before the onset of amnesia (but not after), what kind of amnesia does he have?

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


Sometimes anterograde amnesia may be the result of a brain injury; sometimes it is a precursor of dementia.  


If an individual can form new memories but is unable to recall any autoibiographical memories from before the onset of amnesia, what kind of amnesia does he have?

Retrograde amnesia, which prevents recall of autobiographical memories before onset of amnesia.


What is another term for photographic memory?

eidetic memory


What well-known major contribution did Hermann Ebbinghaus make to the understanding of memory? 

Hermann Ebbinghaus (1850-1909) first established primacy, recency, and the serial position and forgetting curves?


Explain Ebbinghaus' forgetting curve.

When we learn new information, much of it is lost almost immediately after learning it. After this initial drop, however, forgetting nearly plateaus and the loss of memory is far less drastic.


"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.

(The tip of the tongue phenomenon is an example of the phenomenon/memory error of blocking.)


What is a flashbulb memory?

A flashbulb memory is a form of memory in which it seems almost as if one's brain captured a picture or brief video of an event and storing it in one's memory.

People report vividly recalling where they were and what they were thinking during an important, culturally significant event, such as September 11, 2001, or when President Kennedy was killed, or during a personally-relevant event such as being asked for a divorce or the first day of college. 

Interestingly, resarch suggests that although flashbulb memories are vivid, they may not be as accurate as people think they are!!


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 did Brenda Milner contribute to memory research?

Milner studied amnesic patient "HM," who had hippocampal lesions due to epilepsy. HM showed that amnesics could form new implicit memories without forming accompanying explicit memories.


Who studied memory implantation and found that the memories we make can be altered without our awareness?


Elizabeth Loftus

She demonstrated that memory is not static, and can be affected by perception and language, which is why eyewitness testimony is fallible.

Loftus is famous for her work regarding rich false memories (memories for events that did not occur to the person remembering the event).  Loftus developed laboratory techniques to investigate the formation of rich false memories, such as the lost in a shopping mall technique, which was used to implant false memories in college students. 


What did Frederick Bartlett's "War of the Ghosts" story teach us about memory?

When reconstructing memories, we do not recall exactitudes, but rather gists. We make errors of omission and commission, and new information is assimilated into our schemata. Memory then grows out of these schemata.


What is Allan Paivio's dual-coding theory?

This theory states that encoding stimuli visually and semantically in our brains allows for better memory of the stimulus itself. During recall, we can access one or both of the ways the stimulus was encoded, making it easier to remember.


What theory did Craik and Lockhart propose with respect to memory?

the levels-of-processing theory


What does the levels-of-processing theory suggest?

When we learn new things, they are encoded in our brains either shallowly or deeply. Rote memorization is an example of shallow processing, while semantic understanding is an example of deep processing. This theory suggests that we will remember things better the deeper they are processed.


What did Karl Lashley discover about memory?

Memories are not stored in one specific area (though some areas are closely linked with memory), but are distributed to various areas of the cortex.


What rhyme is closely associated with Donald Hebb's theory of learning and memory?

"cells that fire together wire together"

Hebb's theory was that the neurons in our brains adapt to the things that are important to us, and we make synaptic connections when we learn and make new memories.


How did E. R. Kandel help support Hebbian theory?

He provided experimental support for the theory with his research on the synaptic changes in brains of the Aplysia (sea slug).


What does the serial position curve illustrate?

The serial position curve, which looks like a "U" shows which items are remembered when presented with a long list of items.

The earlier items are remembered due to primacy, the later items are remembered due to recency, and the middle items are least commonly remembered.


What is serial learning?

Serial learning is learning lists of items in a specific order, like the states in alphabetical order or the chronology of U.S. presidents.


What is serial anticipation?

Serial anticipation is learning a serial list but then recalling the items from the list using the previous correct answer as a cue for the following answer.


What kind of learning is used during exposure to new vocabulary words in a different language?

Paired association is used to create a match between something we know and something we don't know, like "cheese" in English and "fromage" in french.


free recall

Participants learn items on a list, then must recall them without cues or a particular order.


What are some things that help people remember lists?

  • importance
  • brevity
  • acoustic and semantic dissimilarity
  • familiarity
  • concreteness


What are two theories of forgetting?

  1. decay theory (or trace theory)
  2. interference theory


What is decay (or trace) theory?

Decay theory is the belief that forgetting is caused by memory decay, and that memories just naturally fade over time.


Why does the interference theory state we lose our memories?

Much like it sounds, interference theory suggests that other things in the mind get in the way to block memories between learning and recall.


What are memory tricks like "Roy G. Biv" called?


Mnemonics are ways to remember things by placing them in an order that is easy to remember, like making up a name to remember the colors of the rainbow.


When participants are exposed to new information they are not told to remember, then are tested on that information, what is being measured?

incidental learning


According to the generation-recognition model, why is a fill-in-the-blank test more difficult than a multiple choice test?

because your brain must take an extra step to recall information that it does not have presented. The brain does not have to take this step when simply recognizing that something has been seen or heard before.


According to studies on semantic priming, why do we remember semantically similar words more effectively than semantically dissimilar words?

Words that are semantically similar are linked together and more likely encoded into long-term memory than words that are acoustically similar or semantically dissimilar because meaning is created.


Explain Collins' and Loftus' spreading activation model.

The spreading activation model is a hierarchy of word associations. The more closely two words are linked, like "bird" and "feather," the quicker they can generate a response. The further apart the words are, the longer a response will take.


Do we remember completed tasks or unfinished tasks better?

According to the Zeigarnik effect, we remember unfinished tasks better.


Can hypnosis aid in accurate memory retrieval?

No, memories recovered under hypnosis are likely to be imagined/false! 

Although hypnosis has many beneficial uses that are supported by research, such as helping children with cancer better tolerate chemotherapy and reducing symptoms for adults with IBS, it has a deleterious effect on memory.  Hypnosis can lead to the formation of rich false memories.


Through her research, Elizabeth Loftus has made many important contributions to our understanding of memory.  What are her primary contributions?



For information on Loftus, please see:


Loftus's work focuses on understanding memory better in order to reduce injustices in the legal system.

1)  Discovery of the Misinformation Effect/ development of methods for lab research of the Misinformation Effect/Expert testimony regarding the effects of leading questions & eyewitness testimony fallibility. 

2)  Development of research methodology for implanting rich false memories/Major role in the Memory Wars/Role as an important legal expert in cases  involving recovered/false memories of trauma


What is the misinformation effect?

What are Loftus's contributions in this area?


Loftus developed the methodology to investigate the role of misinformation in memory, discovering the Misinformation Effect-- i.e, providing false or biased information can significantly alter an individual's memories of an event.  

She found that using biased language in questions regarding a video of a car accident video led participants who had watched the video to significantly changed their memories of the video.  This finding has important implications for the use of leading questions with witnesses. 

(Also, inclusion of outright false information in questions can cause participants to remember false details of events!)


What are the Memory Wars?


The Memory Wars were a highly acrimonious conflict between some clinicians and researchers regarding the validity of recovered memories of traumatic events.

Some noted therapists, such as Judy Herman, strongly supported the validity of recovered trauma memories.  (For an explanation of Herman's work and point of view, please consult her book Trauma and Recovery).  Others, such as Elizabeth Loftus, were concerned that some therapists were unintentionally implanting rich false memories (For an explanation of Loftus's work, please read Loftus and Ketcham's The Myth of Repressed Memory).  




Daniel Schacter is a leading memory researcher.  In his best-selling book, The Seven Sins of Memory, Schacter explains that human memory, overall, is adaptive and impressive, but it has limitations, which Schacter describes as the seven sins of human memory.  

Name the 7 Sins of Memory 

Schacter's 7 Sins of Memory are:

  1. Transience
  2. Absent-mindedness
  3. Blocking
  4. Misattribution
  5. Suggestibility
  6. Bias
  7. Persistence

For more an overview of Schacter's seven sins, please read: