Psychology Chapter 6- Memory Flashcards

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The first step in memory; the process by which information gets into memory storage.

Ex: When you are listening to a lecture, watching a play, reading a book, or talking with a friend, you are encoding information into memory.


Divided Attention-

Involves concentrating on more than one activity at the same time.

Ex: If you are watching TV or listening to music while reading a book, you are diving your attention.


Sustained Attention (also called vigilance)-

The ability to maintain attention to a selected stimulus for a prolonged period of time.

Ex: Paying close attention to your notes while studying for an exam.


Levels of Processing-

A continuum of memory processing from shallow to intermediate to deep, with deeper processing producing better memory.


Shallow Processing-

Includes noting the physical features of a stimulus.

Ex: If we were presented a word list and had to remember the word mom, we would notice the letters and the shapes in the word mom.


Intermediate Processing-

Involves giving the stimulus a label

Ex: Reading the word mom


Deepest Level of Processing-

Entails thinking about the meaning of a stimulus.

Ex: Thinking about the meaning of the word mom and about your own mother, her face, and her special qualities.



The formation of a number of different connections around a stimulus at any given level of memory encoding.

Ex: Like creating a huge spider web of links between some new information and everything one already knows, and it can occur at any level of processing.


Mental Imagery-

Entails visualizing material that we want to remember in ways that create a lasting portrait. Imagery functions as a powerful encoding tool for all of us.

Ex: A waiter remembers everything his table has ordered using mental imagery to picture the person eating the food that they ordered.


Dual Code Hypothesis-

Claims that memory for pictures is better than memory for words because pictures are stored as both image codes and verbal codes.



Encompasses how information is retained over time and how it is represented in memory.

Ex: We remember some information for less than a second, some for half a minute, and some for minutes, hours, years, or even a lifetime.


Atkinson-Shiffrin Theory-

States that memory storage involves three separate systems.

  • Sensory Memory- time frames of a fraction of a second to several seconds.
  • Short Term Memory- time frames up to 30 seconds
  • Long Term Memory- time frames up to a lifetime


Sensory Memory-

Holds information from the world in its original sensory form for only an instant, not much longer than the brief time it is exposed to the visual, auditory, and other senses.

Ex: You take in thousands of stimuli as you walk to class. Cracks in the sidewalk, chirping birds, a noisy motorcycle, faces and voices of hundreds of people. But you don't process all of them you only process a number of them.


Echoic Memory-

Refers to the auditory sensory memory, which is retained for up to several seconds.

Ex: Imagine standing in an elevator with a friend who suddenly asks, "What was that song?" about the piped-in tune that just ended. If your friend asks his question quickly enough, you just might have a trace of the song left in your sensory registers.


Iconic Memory-

Refers to visual memory, which is retained only for about 1/4 of a second.

Ex: Visual memory is responsible for our ability to write in the air using a sparkler on the Fourth of July.


Short-Term Memory-

A limited-capacity memory system in which information is usually retained for only as long as 30 seconds unless we use strategies to retain it longer.



Involves grouping or "packing" information that exceeds the 7+or- 2 memory span into higher order units that can be remembered as single units.

Ex: If you see a list of words, remember them for a moment, and write them all down. If you are able to remember all the words, you succeeded to holding 30 letters, grouped into six chunks, in memory.



The conscious repetition of information.

Ex: Rehearsal works best when we must briefly remember a list of numbers or items such as entrées from a dinner menu.


Working Memory-

Refers to a combination of components, including short-term memory and attention, that allow us to hold information temporarily as we perform cognitive tasks.

Ex: Working memory can be thought of as a mental blackboard, a place where we can imagine and visualize.


Long Term Memory-

Relatively permanent type of memory that stores huge amounts of information for a long time.

-Divided into two substructure: Explicit and Implicit Memory


Explicit Memory (declarative memory)-

The conscious recollection of information, such as specific facts and events and, at least in humans, information that can be verbally communicated.

Ex: Recounting the events in a movie you have seen and recalling which politicians are in the president's cabinet.


Implicit Memory (nondeclarative memory)-

Memory in which behavior is affected by prior experience without a conscious recollection of that experience.

Ex: The repetition in your mind of a song you heard playing in the grocery store, even though you had not noticed that song playing.


Episodic Memory-

The retention of information about the where, when, and what of life's happenings-how we remember life's episodes. Episodic memory is autobiographical.

Ex: Episodic Memory includes the details of where you were when your younger brother or sister was born, what happened on your first date, and what you ate for breakfast this morning.


Semantic Memory-

A person's knowledge about the world. Independent of an individual's personal identity with the past.

Ex: Includes one's areas of expertise, general knowledge of the sort learned in school, and everyday knowledge about the meanings of words, famous individuals, important places, and common things.


Procedural Memory-

A type of implicit memory process that involves memory for skills.

Ex: Assuming that you are an expert typist, when you type a paper you are not conscious of where the keys are for the various letters; somehow, your well learned, non-conscious skill of typing allows you to hit the right keys.



The activation of information that people already have in storage to help them remember new information better and faster. Assumed to be an involuntary and non-conscious process.



The retention of information or experience over time.



A preexisting mental concept or framework that helps people to organize and interpret information. Schemas from prior encounters with the environment influence the way we handle information-how we encode, what inferences we about item, and how we retrieve it.

Ex: You and your friend take a drive and end up at a town where you have never been before. You have a seat and look over the menu, although you have never been to this diner before you know exactly what is going to happen. Why? Because you have a schema for what happens in a restaurant.


Permastore Memory-

Represents that portion of original learning that appears destined to be with the person virtually forever, even without rehearsal.



A schema for an event.

Ex: You are enjoying after-dinner coffee at a restaurant when a man in a uniform comes over and puts a piece of paper on your table, your script tells you that the man is probably the waiter who has just given you your check.


Connectionism or Parallel Distributed Processing (PDP)-

The theory that memory is stored throughout the brain in connections among neurons, several of which may work together to process a single memory.


Connectionist View-

Memories are not large knowledge structures, instead memories are more like electrical impulses, organized only to the extent that neurons, the connections among them, and their activity are organized.

Ex: Any piece of knowledge, such as your dog's name, is embedded in the strengths of hundreds or thousands of connections among neurons and is not limited to a single location.


Long Term Potentiation-

States that if two neurons are activated at the same time, the connection between them-and thus the memory-may be strengthened.

Ex: This has been demonstrated experimentally by administering a drug that increases the flow of information from one neuron to another across the synapse, raising the possibility of someday improving memory through drugs that increase neural connections.



Takes place when information that was retained in your memory comes out of storage.

Ex: You might think of long-term memory as a library. You retrieve information in a fashion similar to the process you use to locate and check out a book in an actual library. To retrieve something from your mental data bank, you search your store of memory to find the relevant information.


Serial Position Effect-

The tendency to recall the items at the beginning and end of a list more readily than those in the middle.

Ex: If you are a reality TV fan, you might notice that you always seem to remember the first person who got voted off and the last few survivors. All those people in the middle however, are a blur.


Primacy Effect-

Refers to better recall for items at the beginning of a list.


Recency Effect-

Refers to better recall for items at the end.



A memory task in which the individual has to retrieve previously learned information.

Ex: An essay on tests.



A memory task in which the individual only has to identify learned items.

Ex: Multiple choice tests


Encoding Specificity Principle-

States that information present at the time of encoding or learning tends to be effective as a retrieval cue.

Ex: You know your instructors when they are in a classroom setting-you see them there all the time. If, however, you run into one of them in an unexpected setting and in more casual attire, such as at the gym in workout clothes, the person's name might escape you. Your memory might fail because the cues you have encoded are not available for use.


Context-Dependent Memory-

A change in context between encoding and retrieval can cause memory to fail. In many instances, people remember better when they attempt to recall information in the same context in which they learned it.


Autobiographical Memory-

A special form of episodic memory, is a person's recollections of his or her life experiences.

3 Levels:

  • Lifetime periods
  • General events
  • Event-specific knowledge


Reminiscence Bump-

The effect that adults remember more events from the second and third decades of life than from other decades. May occur because these are the times in our life when we have many novel experiences or because it is during our teens and 20's that we are forging a sense of identity.


Life-Time Periods-

Long segments of time measured in years and even decades.

Ex: You remember your high school life.


General Events-

Extended composite episodes measured in days, weeks, or months.

Ex: A trip you took with your friends after you graduated from high school.


Event-Specific Knowledge-

Individual episodes measured in seconds, minutes, or hours.

Ex: From you post-graduation trip, you might remember the exhilarating experience you had the first time you jet-skied.


Flashbulb Memory-

The memory of emotionally significant events that people often recall with more accuracy and vivid imagery than everyday events.

Ex: Perhaps you remember where you were when you first heard of the terrorist attacks on 9/11. Or where you were and what you were wearing when your parents told you they were getting a divorce.



A defense mechanism by which a person is so traumatized by an event that he or she forgets it and then forgets the act of forgetting.

Ex: Some evidence shows that childhood sexual abuse may not be remembered. This is because repression's main function is to protect the individual from threatening information.


Motivated Forgetting-

Occurs when individuals forget something because it is so painful or anxiety laden that remembering is intolerable.

Ex: This type of forgetting may be a consequence of the emotional trauma experienced by victims of rape or physical abuse, war veterans, and survivors of plane crashes.


Encoding Failure-

Occurs when the information was never entered into long-term memory.

Ex: We only encode a small portion of our life experiences. In a sense, encoding failures really are not cases of forgetting, they are cases of not remembering.


Interference Theory-

People forget not because memories are lost from storage but because other information gets in the way of what they want to remember.


Proactive Interference-

Occurs when material that was learned earlier disrupts the recall of material learned later.

Ex: Suppose you had a good friend 10 years ago named Prudence and that last night you met someone named Patience. You might find yourself calling your new friend Prudence because the old information interferes with the new retrieval of information.


Retroactive Interference-

Occurs when material learned later disrupts the retrieval of information learned earlier.

Ex: Suppose you have lately become friends with Ralph. In sending a note to your friend Raul, you might mistakenly address it to Ralph because the new information (Ralph) interferes with the old information (Raul).


Decay Theory-

When we learn something new, a Neurochemical memory trace forms, but over time this trace disintegrates. Suggests that the passage of time always increases forgetting.

Ex: You may have forgotten the face or name of someone in your high school class, but when you return to the setting where you knew the person, you might remember.


Tip-Of-The-Tongue (TOT) Phenomenon-

A type of "effortful retrieval" that occurs when we are confident that we know something but cannot quite pull it out of our memory. Happens when we retrieve some of the information about something, but not all of it.


Retrospective Memory-

Remembering the past.


Prospective Memory-

Involves remembering information about doing something in the future. It includes memory for intentions. Also includes both timing (when we have to do something) and content (what we have to do).


Time-based Prospective Memory-

Our intention to engage in a given behavior after a specified amount of time has gone by.

Ex: An intention to make a phone call to someone in one hour.


Event-Based Prospective Memory-

We engage in the intended behavior when some external event or cue elicits it.

Ex: When we give a message to a roommate upon seeing her.



The loss of memory.


Anterograde Amnesia-

A memory disorder that affects the retention of new information and events.

Ex: In 50 First Dates, Drew Barrymore remembered everything and everyone up until her accident. After that, she forgot everyone and everything that occurred at the end of each day when she went to sleep.


Retrograde Amnesia-

Involves memory loss for a segment of the past but not for new events. Much more common than Anterograde amnesia and frequently occurs when the brain is assaulted by an electrical shock or a physical blow such as a head injury to a football player.