Human Memory Exam 2 Notes

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Three Processes for Long-Term Memory

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Three Processes for Long-Term Memory

Encoding, Storage & Retrieval

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Memory trace has to be created in long-term memory

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Memory trace has to persist over time

Forgetting stems from lack of ability

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Have to later be able to access the memory trace

Forgetting stems from lack of accessibility

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Two types of Forgetting

Decay & Interference

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Memory trace that fades away over time

Indicates a storage problem

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Memory trace is disrupted by earlier or more recently acquired information

Could be either a storage or retrieval problem

Example: trying to remember dinner you had one week ago, it would be hard to retrieve because you have dinner every single night. Every time you have dinner, that dinner from a week ago starts to leave the memory.

This would indicate a retrieval problem because: You were trying to remember one specific dinner, and the only one that comes to mind is one from three weeks ago.

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Evidence of Decay

Experiments going back to Ebbinghaus has revealed a consistent pattern of forgetting as a function of time

Forgetting is initially rapid but then decelerates

hard to determine whether the crucial variable is really time, number of intervening events

Contextual change : changes of environment, new experiences could make it hard to retrieve/ remember information.

Remember: this is when forgetting is RAPID, and then it stays constant.

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Brain Mechanisms that Discourage Decay

Synaptic Consolidation, Systemic Consolidation & Reconsolidating

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Synaptic Consolidation

Synaptic connections are altered to encode new memory

Known as strengthening

Forming NEW synaptic connections helps you remember

Happens over the course of days to weeks

Happens in EARLY stages after an event occurs

Adjusts strength of association between two neurons

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Systemic Consolidation

Memories that are initially dependent upon the hippocampus become fully represented via connection in cortex

The cortex is slower to adjust to information

Having a hippocampal system with information and transferring it to the cortex

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Retrieval strengthens an earlier memory trace but also makes it more susceptible to disruption by more recently encountered information

Newer process

Linked with reconstructive memory

Also makes it more susceptible to disruption by more encountered information

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Evidence for Interference

Proactive Inhibition, Retroactive Interference, Part-Set Cuing Impairment & Retrieval Induced Forgetting

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Proactive Inhibition

Previously acquired information interferes with one's ability to acquire new information

Most likely reflects a retrieval problem or a storage issues

Example: trying to remember where your car was parked today but only remembering where is was parked yesterday

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Retroactive Interfernece

New information interferes with one's ability to remember previously acquired information

Could reflect either a storage or retrieval problem

Example: remember the first time you went to Starbucks may be hard to retrieve, so you remember the most recent time instead

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Part-Set Cuing Impairment

Receiving items from the same category as the target info impairs retrieval of the target information

If you're trying to remember something and something is SIMILAR comes to mind, it will "hurt you" rather than help you and make it even harder to access

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Retrieval Induced Forgetting

Practicing retrieving some of the items on the list interferes with later retrieval of NON-RETRIEVED items

You are getting worse at information as you are NOT practicing it

Example: Studying and memorizing key words, and not them a specific word you are NOT learning, it will be incredibly hard to remember or recall it

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Mechanisms of Interference

Associative Blocking, Associate Unlearning & Inhibition

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Associative Blocking

When the stronger responses to a cue prevent retrieval of weaker responses

A blocking association between the category and thought

Example: trying to remember an artist's name, and then saying a different name, that will make you forget the name

Internal Form of blocking

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Associate Unlearning

Association between a cue and response is weakened when that response is incorrect

A way of limiting interference

Problem with this is you may need to unlearned information again

You are weakening an association but it will be harder to retrieve it

Example: Changing a password on a database and when you have to put the new password in, you put the OLD passwords, then the database tells you that you are wrong after this you enter the new password

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When there are interfering responses that come to mind, you just suppress it

Interference responses are suppressed, making them more difficult to retrieve regardless of cue

Example: Thinking of a word to write in your essay, but only remembering the word in Spanish and then you suppress that Spanish word to try and find the English version of that word

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Independent Probe Method

When you are given a category then you are given a related idea (Example: banana to monkey- this test will give you hints and then give you the word "monkey" and you are supposed to get the word banana)

Has to do with inhibition

Second way of cuing it to see if you can get to that route

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Is Forgetting Inevitable

Has recently been called into question by people with highly superior autobiographical memory

These people can recall variable detail of seemingly any date in their life history

Autobiographical memory is NOT common, and only a handful of people have it (compared to the population)

In people with superior autobiographical memory’s scans, it was shown that they have a LARGER temporal lobe and a LARGER caudate nucleus than normal brains of people their age.

It should be noted that the CAUDATE NUCLEUS is linked with Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, so in short SA memory is linked with OCD. ( it is suggusted.)

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Motivated Forgetting

Incidental Forgetting & Motivated Forgetting

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Incidental Forgetting

Forgetting the occurs despite the intention to remember

Example:Forgetting a decreased family member's voice

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Motivated Forgetting

Forgetting that occurs because one want to forget

Example: Wanted to forget a family member's death

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Positivity Bias

The tendency to recall positive rather than negative experiences

Example: My family got in a car accident while on the way to my graduation, and my dad was not able to see me cross the stage. But now, years later when I think of my graduation day, I think of it as a happy day, and smile about it, rather than thinking about the accident.

This may be important to emotion regulation (recalling more positive experiences helps regulate negative emotions.)

May get stronger with age (older people tend to have stronger positivity bias

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Failure to remember life experiences associated with pain or negative emotion

Stems from Freudian theory in which the superego censors information that could be damaging to ego

Although it is unconscious and stored away, the repressed memories may influence behavior

Repressed memories sometimes reappear in other forms (ex: in dreams, in the form of a mental illness, etc.)

Typically involves early life experiences

Difficult to distinguish from ordinary forgetting

We typically do not remember anything from birth - 3 years (infantile amnesia)

If something “bad” happens to someone within that age and they forget, it may not be repression and they could have just forgotten because they were young

We typically tend to remember very little from ages 3-7 (childhood amnesia)

They could have forgotten / remembered very little

Problem: if something that terrible happens to someone - naturally, it is expected that they would remember it

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Uncovering Repressed Memories

Hypnosis, Visualization of Traumatic Event & Therapy Groups with Other People Who Have Had Similar Traumatic Experiences

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The problem with hypnosis is that it is a very relaxed and suggestible state

Fake stories can be formed and people can be led to believe they experienced something traumatic when they in fact did not.

BUT it Can be very effective

It's putting you into a state to comply with the hypnotist.

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Visualization of Traumatic Event

Visualization may help retrieval of memories

The problem with this is that essentially asking person to imagine, which can lead to the retrieval of an imaginary memory

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Therapy Groups with Other People Who Have Had Similar Traumatic Experiences

There are multiple problems with this, it is VERY suggestible and can make people think they are in denial of a traumatic event.

Hearing everyone else’s traumatic experiences might make the person believe they have one too

May lead to retrieval of imaginary memory

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Suggestibility and Memory

Suggestibility- a tendency to incorporate information from other sources into one’s recollection of an event

All 3 of the techniques discussed earlier for eliciting repressed memories expose the patient to suggestion

Not clear if recovered memories were repressed, or if they were only suggested

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Populations Especially Prone to Suggestibility

  1. People who report dissociative experiences

  • Ex: schizophrenics (extreme), people who score higher on dissociative experiences scale

  1. People who construct detailed visual images

  • Ex: people who are especially good at imagining, or use images to help them remember things

  • Detailed imagination might get confused for reality

  1. Children

  • Children have worse memory than adults

  • Much more likely to go along with suggested events

  • They are used to listening to adults, and used to adults having the answers

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Methods for Reducing Suggestibility

  1. Question people shortly after an event takes place so that distinctiveness can be used to separate true from false memories

  • Much easier to refute suggested info if the event happened recently

  1. Ask open-ended questions rather than ones that imply that something happened

  • tell me about your father and your relationship with him” rather than asking “tell me about when your father abused you”

  1. Authority figures should avoid suggesting that an answer is right or wrong

  • Ex: When questioning people and they give the answer the authority were looking for, giving confirmatory feedback (“yes, that’s what we thought too”)

  • Makes the person much more likely to believe that was what happened

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Experimental Approaches for Studying Motivated Forgetting

Directed Forgetting, Two Methods (Item-Method Directed Forgetting & List-Method Directed Forgetting) & Two Conditions

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Directed Forgetting

Participants are instructed to remember some items and to forget others

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Two Methods:

Item-Method Directed Forgetting- Participants are told after each items whether to remember or forget it

Using this approach for every single item but then told to recall all the items presented

Words that participants were told to remember are more likely to be remembered

List-Method Directed Forgetting- Participants receive an entire list and were told whether to remember or forget it

Tend to remember more words from the one they were instructed to remember. (More Complex)

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2 Conditions:

Remember Condition- presented with a list and told to remember and presented with another list and told to also remember

Forget Condition- presented with a list and then told "oops, that was the wrong one" and to forget it. Then presented with a new list and told to remember

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Effects of Directed Forgetting

To-be-forgotten items in items-methods directed forgetting are less likely to be recalled or recognized

Most likely reflects encoding deficits

To-be-forgotten items in list-method directed forgetting are often recognized just as well as to-be-rememebered items

Recall of to-be-forgotten items is reduced

Probably reflects a retrieval deficit

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2 Explanations of List-Method Retrieval Deficits

Retrieval Inhibition & Context Shift

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Retrieval Inhibition

When you give someone a list of items and then tell them "oh that was the wrong list" they are most likely to dampen them down and forget them

Instruction to forget a list of times leads to one to inhibit activation of that list

When later asked to remember items from the to-be-rememebered list are easier to retrieve


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Context Shift

More complicated

Instructions to forget changes mental context

New mental context is poor retrieval cue for to-be-forgotten list

Coming into the experiment with a certain state of mind and then your mind changes

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Think/No- Think Paradigm

Participants study a set of word pairs , then asked to use a cue word to retrieve as a paired word, except when a cue appears in red.

Less likely to later remember word pairs from these No-Think trials.

After you study the words, you’re given the cue or first word of the pair, and you’re instructed to retrieve the word that went with it earlier EXCEPT when it appears in red, and told NOT to think about it.

No-think trials associated with increased neural activity in prefrontal cortex (indicating suppression) and reduced activity in the hippocampus (indicating lack of retrieval)

When people are given one of the words in the NO THINK, they are actively inhibiting the pair altogether.

Can also be tested with the independent probe method ( rather than using a cue word you use a category word?)

You see increased neuronal activity in the left prefrontal cortex (when brain scans are conducted during this trial.) You also see reduced activity in the hippocampus(Indicates the suppression is working.). In these trials you have to work harder to SUPPRESS the information. What does this suggest? That we do have control over our memory system, and can in fact dampen down memories.

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Recovery of Forgetting Memories

One may eventually wish to recall memories one had previously wanted to forget

Three factors that encourage recovery: Passage of Time, Repeated Retrieval Attempts & Cue Reinstatement

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Passage of Time

Spontaneous recovery can occur after some time. Idea that overtime, the cues that are available to you will change and the information will come to mind.

Basically, a well known phenomenon. If you wait a while, you can retrieve it again.

If you wait long enough it will come to mind)

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Repeated Retrieval Attempts

Hypermnesia –remembering something that had not been recalled in previous tests (strong memory.) Your memory becomes better over time.

If you keep trying to get more information, you might get info you could not come up with before.

The more times you try to remember something, the more likely you are to retrieve different stuff than before.

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Cue Reinstatement

Can remember seemingly forgotten memories when given the right cues

Ex: when people go back to their childhood home, memories of things that happened in that home, will cause memories to come up. The house caused them to remember, because there are all these retrieval cues around.

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Eyewitness Testimony

Three types of information one needs to remember to be a useful eyewitness:

  1. Actions that were carried out Determine was the action actually committed and was it legal

  2. People who were encountered Who did you see

  3. Which people perform which actions Know the correspondence between the two and know who exactly did what in terms of the crime or action

All three types of information present challenges to the human memory system bc it's hard to remember action, face and it hard to connect those two

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Remembering Action

Misinformation Effect & Reconstructive Memory

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Misinformation Effect

Memory of an event may be interfered with by information encountered earlier or later

  1. If someone gives you info about a crime scene it can affect your reporting of what you saw

  2. Example: Showing ppl a video of a car crash and then asking the people "how fast was the car going when they smashed into each other" While others were asked "how fast they were going when they touched each other"

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Recontructive Memory

Construct an account of what must have happened on the basis of available information

  1. Some information may come from event items If the question asked to you has some biased words in it , it may affect the way you viewed the scene

  2. Information encountered later may also become incorporated into one's memory for an event

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Influence of Post-Event Questioning

Remember observed actions differently as a result of suggested information

  1. Example : The question of “how fast were they going when they smashed into each other?” could suggest that they were going very fast.

Remember suggested objects and actions that were in fact never encountered

  1. Example: asking”when the man looked at his wrist watch did he look nervous?” and people responding “yeah he was!” even though the man was never wearing a wrist watch.

  2. You can literally cause people to make up events from their past. (implant memories in people's heads by giving stories to them.)

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Remembering People

People are very good at recognizing familiar faces

Have great difficulty recalling individual facial features (e.g., for a police sketch)

  1. Typical involves breaking down the features in individual features

Process faces in a holistic manner

  1. Perceive facial features in relation to one another rather than isolation.

  2. Hard to describe individual features of a face

  3. You only see how well the features relate to one another.

  4. Could lead to misinformation when people are given a general face and ask them to pick which one to start off with.

Verbal overshadowing –describing a face sometimes leads to poorer subsequent recognition

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Holistic Face Processing

Isolated Part Test Item

New Configuration Test Item

Old Configuration Test Item

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Brain Mechanism of Face Recognition

Fusiform gyrus in temporal cortex seems to be important for face recognition

Damage to fusiform face area leads to prosopagnosia –inability to recognize faces

Fusiform gyrus may also contribute to expertise in other visual discriminations

Seems to be recruited when making difficult discriminations among category members

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Expertise and Face Recognition

Recruitment of fusiform gyrus suggests that we are all “face experts”

Expertise may be limited to faces of groups of people with which we have experience

Cross-race effect –difficulty distinguishing members of a different race

  1. Ex: white people not being around a lot of black people in their life, so when they witness a crime and see a black person do it, they may assume it's any black person, b/c they’re not experienced with “black faces” . IT COMES DOWN TO EXPERIENCE

Own-age bias –difficulty distinguishing people from different age groups

  1. Ex: on college campus, and you see an older adult vs a young adult, you will have more experience being able to tell them apart.

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Influence of Emotion on Memory for People

Great disagreement about whether emotion increases or decreases eyewitness accuracy in identifying a perpetrator (Crime scenes tend to provoke emotions, therefore it could mean that you aren't paying undivided attention to the person's face)

May depend upon the source of the emotion

Attention is drawn to the source of the arousal at the expense of more peripheral information ● ( Having a gun pointed at you or a knife may cause your attention to be drawn to the weapon NOT the person's exact face.)

Weapon focus effect –focus on weapon rather than the person holding the weapon

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LineUp Identification

Traditional lineups involve simultaneous presentation of six faces, either live or in photos Problem: the simultaneous presentation could cause the witness to assume that one of the people in the lineup DEFINITELY did the crime, and choose someone that they’re not sure about (?)

May encourage eyewitnesses to select the most similar face, even if the perpetrator is not present.

Sequential lineups, in which one photo is presented at a time, have been suggested to reduce reliance on familiarity. ● Photos are mainly used nowadays, not the lineup

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Confidence and Eyewitness Testimony

Juries use perceived convenience of an eyewitness as an indicator of accuracy

But factors that influence accuracy may not be the same factors that encourage confidence, which may not be a good indicator of accuracy.

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Remembering Who Did What

Even when eyewitnesses accurately remember the people and actions they’ve seen, they may not remember who did what.

In unconscious transference, an eyewitness associates a familiar but innocent person with the actions of a perpetrator of a crime.

Phenomenon identified: unconscious transference, remembering SEEING a person and SEEING criminal activity, and you put these two together unknowingly, even if they have no correlation.

Examples: Oklahoma City Bombing. Examples 2: A man getting arrested for a rape, however he was on TV when the rape occured. Because of this, the women believed and identified that he was the one who raped her.

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Brain Areas Underlying Unconscious Transference

Older adults aged 60 and older are more likely to exhibit unconscious transference

Ability to remember who did what depends upon the functioning of the hippocampus

Hippocampus creates associations between an actor and the actions he or she performed and is one of most strongly impacted areas in aging

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Ways to Reduce Errors in Eyewitness Testimony

Interview witnesses shortly after the event takes place

Avoid providing leading information in questions. (Example of where suggestibility is an issue. You would be basically telling the eyewitness what they saw, and altering their memory)

Limit exposure to suspects outside of the context of the crime scene (Ex: being exposed to a person multiple times may then insert them into your memory, in a different context which is why there are eyewitness issues.)

Use sequential rather than simultaneous police lineups (it encourages people to be more conservative)

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Cognitive Interview

Mental reinstatement of the environment and personal involvement ➢Have people put themselves back into the environment they were in (mentally)

Reporting of every detail no matter how insignificant ➢ Every little detail is important

Describing the components of the event in different orders ➢ Discussing the event in multiple retrieval routes.

Reporting of the event from different perspectives ➢ “What would it look like on the other side of the room?" ➢ Basically guessing.

Incorporates principles of hypnosis.

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Memory in the Womb

Newborn babies prefer the sound of their mother’s voice to that of other female voices

Newborns prefer to hear a story that was read to them in utero. (this is because they were remembering things that happened to them before they were born.)

Exposed to a great deal of repetition of preferred stimuli

Preference likely reflects implicit rather than explicit memory (no evidence that suggests this)+

Limitations: it is limited to the MOTHERS voice.

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Infantile Amnesia

An inability to remember events of early childhood

Most people are unable to remember events that happened before they were 3 years old

Occasional apparent ability to remember such events may reflect memory for later retelling of the events

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