Memory Part 2-Experimental Psycology-Lecture Handout, Exercises for Experimental Psychology

Memory Part 2-Experimental Psycology-Lecture Handout, Exercises for Experimental Psychology

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This lecture handout was provided by Prof. Sherjill Gill at All India Institute of Medical Sciences for Experimental Psychology course. It includes: Atkinson, Shiffrin, Criticisms, Baddeley, Phonological, Neuropsychologi...
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Experimental Psychology – PSY402 VU LESSON 10


Atkinson-Shiffrin memory model

Note that in this diagram, sensory memory is detached from either form of memory, and represents its devolvement from short term and long term memory, due to its storage being used primarily on a "run time" basis for physical or psychosomatic reference. The Atkinson-Shiffrin model, Multi-store model or Multi-memory model is a psychological model proposed in 1968 as a proposal for the structure of memory. It proposed that human memory involves a sequence of three stages: Sensory memory (SM) Short-term memory (STM) Long-term memory (LTM)

The original 2-stage model of the Atkinson-Shiffrin memory model; lacking the "sensory memory" stage, which was devised at a later stage in research The multi-store model of memory is an explanation of how memory processes work. You hear and see and feel many things, but only a small number are remembered. The model was first described by Atkinson and Shiffrin in 1968.

Sensory memory The sense organs have a limited ability to store information about the world in a fairly unprocessed way for less than a second. The visual system possesses iconic memory for visual stimuli such as shape, size, colour and location (but not meaning), whereas the hearing system has echoic memory for auditory stimuli. Coltheart et al (1974) have argued that the momentary freezing of visual input allows us to select which

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Experimental Psychology – PSY402 VU aspects of the input should go on for further memory processing. The existence of sensory memory has been experimentally demonstrated by Sperling (1960) using a tachistoscope.

Short-term memory Information is selected by attention from sensory memory, may pass into short term memory (STM). This allows us to retain information long enough to use it, e.g. looking up a telephone number and remembering it long enough to dial it. Peterson and Peterson (1959) have demonstrated that STM last approximately between 15 and 30 seconds, unless people rehearse the material, while Miller (1956) has found that STM has a limited capacity of around 7+/-2 ‘chunks’ of information. STM also appears to mostly encode memory acoustically (in terms of sound) as Conrad (1964) has demonstrated, but can also retain visuospatial images.

Long-term memory LTM provides the lasting retention of information and skills, from minutes to a lifetime. Long term memory appears to have an almost limitless capacity to retain information, but it could never be measured as it would take too long. LT information seems to be encoded mainly in terms of meaning (semantic memory) as Baddeley has shown, but also retains procedural skills and imagery. Memory may also be transported directly from sensory memory to LTM if it receives instant attention. Such as the witnessing of a fire in one's home.

Criticisms Some may argue that the Multi-Store model is much too linear, and does not accommodate for the subdivisions of STM and LTM memory stores -- particularly, its structure does not parallel well within the neurological explanations of where and how memory is stored; the model suggesting that memory would be purposely disregarded by physiological processes and stored in a linear memory sequence --

While the model deals with the several forms of memory in its model, it does not take into account the way in which the information is presented, nor does it take into account biological, or internal factors which may interfere with an individual's ability to respond or understand the experiment - including an individual's cognitive ability, or previous experience with learning techniques.

Though there are studies to suggest that some people, such as Clive Wearing have limited memory capacity, it is not enough evidence in itself to suggest that the brain has 3 separate memory stores within its structure. The reasoning is that whilst these cases can be somewhat explained by the multi-store model, other cases such as those of autistic savants, completely disband the theory of repetition and rehearsal within the multi store model, due to their ability to be able to recall precise figures with clarity and lucidity without the need for rehearsal; showing no process of decay, nor any other factors mentioned in the original model. Had the model included internal factors which influenced each stage of the memory process, it would have been somewhat more credible in explaining such phenomena.

Later Developments This model provided an important framework for learning and memory theories to evolve from, but a number of problems with it have been cited since. Since each element in the model builds off the one preceding, it cannot explain the rare situations where short-term memory is impaired, but long-term memory is not. According to this model, information that can't make it through short-term memory has no way to become encoded in long-term memory. Atkinson and Shiffrin also refrain from proposing any mechanisms or processes that might be responsible for encoding memories and transferring them between the three systems. The model is a hypothetical layout of the function of memory systems, but not in any way representative of a physical "map" of memory systems. Many newer models have been created that can better account for these other characteristics, and a tremendous body of research on the physical layout of memory systems has emerged. As the oldest and simplest model, this is can no longer be considered entirely accurate or comprehensive. The rehearsal loop also must be included in the transfer of memory into LTM from the STM, it is said that for things to be transferred correctly they must negate the rehearsal loop to ensure full remembrance.

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Experimental Psychology – PSY402 VU

Baddeley's model of working memory

Schematic of Baddeley's Model

Alan Baddeley and Graham Hitch proposed a Model of Working Memory in 1974, in an attempt to describe a more accurate model of short-term memory. Baddeley & Hitch proposed their working memory model as an alternative to the short-term store in Atkinson & Shiffrin's 'multi-store' memory model (1968). This model is later expanded upon by Baddeley and other co-workers and has become the dominant view in the field of working memory. However, alternative models are developing providing a different perspective on the working memory system. The original model of Baddeley & Hitch was composed of three main components; the central executive which acts as supervisory system and controls the flow of information from and to its slave systems: the phonological loop and the visuo-spatial sketchpad. The slave systems are short-term storage systems dedicated to a content domain (verbal and visuo-spatial, respectively). In 2000 Baddeley added a third slave system to his model; the episodic buffer.

Baddeley & Hitch's argument for the distinction of two domain-specific slave systems in the older model was derived from experimental findings with dual-task paradigms. Performance of two simultaneous tasks requiring the use of two separate perceptual domains (i.e. a visual and a verbal task) is nearly as efficient as performance of the tasks individually. In contrast, when a person tries to carry out two tasks simultaneously that use the same perceptual domain, performance is less efficient than when performing the tasks individually.

Components Central executive The central executive is a flexible system responsible for the control and regulation of cognitive processes. It has the following functions:

• binding information from a number of sources into coherent episodes • coordination of the slave systems • shifting between tasks or retrieval strategies • selective attention and inhibition

It can be thought of as a supervisory system that controls cognitive processes and intervenes when they go astray.

Using the dual-task paradigm, Baddeley and colleagues have found, for instance, that patients with Alzheimer's dementia are impaired when performing multiple tasks simultaneously, even when the difficulty of the individual tasks is adapted to their abilities. Recent research on executive functions suggests that the 'central' executive is not as central as conceived in the Baddeley & Hitch model. Rather, there seem to be separate executive functions that can vary largely independently between individuals and can be selectively impaired or spared by brain damage.[2]

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Experimental Psychology – PSY402 VU Phonological loop The phonological loop (or "articulatory loop") as a whole deals with sound or phonological information. It consists of two parts: a short-term phonological store with auditory memory traces that are subject to rapid decay and an articulatory rehearsal component that can revive the memory traces. Any auditory verbal information is assumed to enter automatically into the phonological store. Visually presented language can be transformed into phonological code by silent articulation and thereby be encoded into the phonological store. This transformation is facilitated by the articulatory control process. The phonological store acts as an 'inner ear', remembering speech sounds in their temporal order, whilst the articulatory process acts as an 'inner voice' and repeats the series of words (or other speech elements) on a loop to prevent them from decay. The phonological loop may play a key role in the acquisition of vocabulary, particularly in the early childhood years. It may also be vital for learning a second language.

Five main findings provide evidence for the phonological loop:

The effect of phonological similarity Lists of words that sound similar are more difficult to remember than words that sound different. Semantic similarity (similarity of meaning) has comparatively little effect, supporting the assumption that verbal information is coded largely phonologically in working memory.

The word length effect Lists of short words are remembered better than lists of long words. This may be because short words can be articulated faster, so that more words can be silently articulated before they decay. The model assumes that the phonological loop can maintain lists of words (or other verbal material) as long as their articulation duration does not exceed two seconds.

The effect of articulatory suppression Memory for verbal material is impaired when people are asked to say something irrelevant aloud. This is assumed to block the articulatory rehearsal process, thereby leaving memory traces in the phonological loop to decay.

Transfer of information between codes With visually presented items, adults usually name and sub vocally rehearse them, so the information is transferred from a visual to an auditory code. Articulatory suppression prevents this transfer, and in that case the above mentioned effect of phonological similarity is erased for visually presented items.

Neuropsychological evidence A defective phonological store explains the behavior of patients with a specific deficit in phonological short term memory. Aphasic patients with dyspraxia are unable to set up the speech motor codes necessary for articulation, caused by a deficiency of the articulatory rehearsal process. On the other hand, patients with dysarthria, whose speech problems are secondary, show a normal capacity for rehearsal. This suggests that it is the subvocal rehearsing that is crucial.[

Visuospatial sketchpad The visuospatial sketchpad is assumed to hold information about what we see. It is used in the temporary storage and manipulation of spatial and visual information, such as remembering shapes and colors, or the location or speed of objects in space. It is also involved in tasks which involve planning of spatial movements, like planning one's way through a complex building. The visuospatial sketchpad can be divided into separate visual, spatial and possibly kinaesthetic (movement) components. It is principally represented within the right hemisphere of the brain. Logie has proposed that the visuo-spatial sketchpad can be further subdivided into two components: The visual cache, which stores information about form and color. The inner scribe, which deals with spatial and movement information. It also rehearses information in the visual cache and transfers information to the central executive.

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Experimental Psychology – PSY402 VU Three main findings provide evidence for the distinction between visual and spatial parts of the visuospatial sketchpad. There is less interference between visual and spatial tasks than between two visual tasks or two spatial tasks. Brain damage can influence one of the components without influencing the other one. Results from brain-imaging show that working memory tasks with visual objects activate mostly areas in the left hemisphere, whereas tasks with spatial information activate more areas in the right hemisphere.

Episodic buffer

In 2000 Baddeley added a fourth component to the model, called the 'episodic buffer'. This component is a third slave system, dedicated to linking information across domains to form integrated units of visual, spatial, and verbal information with time sequencing (or chronological ordering), such as the memory of a story or a movie scene. The episodic buffer is also assumed to have links to long-term memory and semantical meaning. The main motivation for introducing this component was the observation that some (in particular, highly intelligent) patients with amnesia, who presumably have no ability to encode new information in long-term memory, nevertheless have good short-term recall of stories, recalling much more information than could be held in the phonological loop.

Validity of the model The strength of Baddeley's model is its ability to integrate a large amount of findings on short-term and working memory. Additionally, the mechanisms of the slave systems, especially the phonological loop, has inspired a wealth of research in experimental psychology, neuropsychology, and cognitive neuroscience. However, criticisms have been raised, for instance of the phonological-loop component, because some details of the findings are not easily explained by the original Baddeley & Hitch model. The episodic buffer is seen as a helpful addition to the model of working memory, but it has not been investigated extensively and its functions remain unclear.[18

Memory Retrieval Encoding and storage are necessary to acquire and retain information. But the crucial process in remembering is retrieval, without which we could not access our memories. Unless we retrieve an experience, we do not really remember it. In the broadest sense, retrieval refers to the use of stored information. For many years, psychologists considered memory retrieval to be the deliberate recollection of facts or past experiences. However, in the early 1980s psychologists began to realize that people can be influenced by past experiences without any awareness that they are remembering. For example, a series of experiments showed that brain-damaged amnesic patients—who lose certain types of memory function—were influenced by previously viewed information even though they had no conscious memory of having seen the information before. Based on these and other findings, psychologists now distinguish two main classes of retrieval processes: explicit memory and implicit memory.

Explicit Memory Explicit memory refers to the deliberate, conscious recollection of facts and past experiences. If someone asked you to recall everything you did yesterday, this task would require explicit memory processes. There are two basic types of explicit memory tests: recall tests and recognition tests. In recall tests, people are asked to retrieve memories without the benefit of any hints or cues. A request to remember everything that happened to you yesterday or to recollect all the words in a list you just heard would be an example of a recall test. Suppose you were briefly shown a series of words: cow, prize, road, gem, hobby, string, weather. A recall test would require you to write down or say as many of the words as you could. If you were instructed to recall the words in any order, the test would be one of free recall. If you were directed to recall the words in the order they were presented, the test would one of serial recall or ordered recall. Another type of test is cued recall, in which people are given cues or prompts designed to aid recall. Using the above list as an example, a cued recall test might ask, “What word on the list was related to car?”

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Experimental Psychology – PSY402 VU In school, tests that require an essay or fill-in-the-blank response are examples of recall tests. All recall tests require people to explicitly retrieve events from memory.

Recognition tests require people to examine a list of items and identify those they have seen before, or to determine whether they have seen a single item before. Multiple-choice and true-false exams are types of recognition tests. For example, a recognition test on the list of words above might ask, “Which of the following words appeared on the list? (a) plant (b) driver (c) string (d) radio.” People can often recognize items that they cannot recall. You have probably had the experience of not being able to answer a question but then recognizing an answer as correct when someone else supplies it. Likewise, adults shown yearbook pictures of their high-school classmates often have difficulty recalling the classmates’ names, but they can easily pick the classmates’ names out of a list. In some cases, recall can be better than recognition. For example, if asked, “Do you know a famous person named Cooper?” you might answer “no.” However, given the cue “James Fenimore,” you might recall American writer James Fenimore Cooper, even though you did not recognize the surname by itself.

Implicit Memory Implicit memory refers to using stored information without trying to retrieve it. People often retain and use prior experiences without realizing it. For example, suppose that the word serendipity is not part of your normal working vocabulary, and one day you hear the word used in a conversation. A day later you find yourself using the word in conversation and wonder why. The earlier exposure to the word primed you to retrieve it automatically in the right situation without intending to do so. Another example of implicit memory in everyday life is unintentional plagiarism. That is, people can copy the ideas of others without being aware they are doing so. The most famous case involved British singer- songwriter George Harrison, formerly of the Beatles. Harrison was sued because his 1970 hit song “My Sweet Lord” sounded strikingly similar to “He’s So Fine,” a 1963 hit by The Chiffons. Harrison denied that he had intentionally copied the earlier song but admitted that he had heard it before writing “My Sweet Lord.” In 1976 a judge ruled against Harrison, concluding that the singer had been unconsciously influenced by his memory.

Psychologists use the term priming to describe the relatively automatic change in performance resulting from prior exposure to information. Priming occurs even when people do not consciously remember being exposed to the information. One way to look for evidence of implicit memory, therefore, is to measure priming effects. In typical implicit memory experiments, subjects study a long list of words, such as assassin and boyhood. Later, subjects are presented with a series of word fragments (such as a_ _a_ _in and b_ _ho_d) or word “stems” (as______ or bo_____) and are instructed to complete the fragment or stem with the first word that comes to mind. The subjects are not explicitly asked to recall the list words. Nevertheless, the previous presentation of assassin and boyhood primes subjects to complete the fragments with these words more often than would be expected by guessing. This priming effect occurs even if the subjects do not remember studying the words before—strong evidence of implicit memory.The hallmark of all implicit memory tests is that people are not required to remember; rather, they are given a task, and past experience is expressed on the test relatively automatically.

Remarkably, even amnesic individuals show implicit memory. In one experiment, amnesic patients and normal subjects studied lists of words and then were given both an explicit memory test (free recall) and an implicit memory test (word-stem completion). Relative to control subjects, the amnesic patients failed miserably at the free-recall test. Due to their memory disorder, they could consciously remember very few of the list words. On the implicit test, however, the amnesic patients performed as well or better than the normal subjects (see the accompanying chart entitled “Word Memory in Amnesia”). Even though the amnesic patients could not consciously access the desired information, they expressed prior learning in the form of priming on the implicit memory test. They retained the information without knowing it. Studies have found that a person’s performance on implicit memory tests can be relatively independent of his or her performance on explicit tests. Some factors that have large effects on explicit memory test performance have no effect—or even the opposite effect—on implicit memory test performance. For example, whether people pay attention to the appearance, the sound, or the meaning of words has a huge

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Experimental Psychology – PSY402 VU effect on how well they can explicitly recall the words later. But this variable has practically no effect on their implicit memory test performance (see the accompanying chart entitled “Explicit and Implicit Memory”). Implicit tests seem to tap a different form of memory.

Retrieval Cues One fascinating feature of remembering is how a cue from the external world can cause us to suddenly remember something from years ago. For example, returning to where you once lived or went to school may bring back memories of events experienced long ago. Sights, sounds, and smells can all trigger recall of long dormant events. These experiences point to the critical nature of retrieval in remembering.

A retrieval cue is any stimulus that helps us recall information in long-term memory. The fact that retrieval cues can provoke powerful recollections has led some researchers to speculate that perhaps all memories are permanent. That is, perhaps nearly all experiences are recorded in memory for a lifetime, and all forgetting is due not to the actual loss of memories but to our inability to retrieve them. This idea is an interesting one, but most memory researchers believe it is probably wrong. Two general principles govern the effectiveness of retrieval cues. One is called the encoding specificity principle. According to this principle, stimuli may act as retrieval cues for an experience if they were encoded with the experience. Pictures, words, sounds, or smells will cause us to remember an experience to the extent that they are similar to the features of the experience that we encoded into memory. For example, the smell of cotton candy may trigger your memory of a specific amusement park because you smelled cotton candy there.

Distinctiveness is another principle that determines the effectiveness of retrieval cues. Suppose a group of people is instructed to study a list of 100 items. Ninety-nine are words, but one item in the middle of the list is a picture of an elephant. If people were given the retrieval cue “Which item was the picture?” almost everyone would remember the elephant. However, suppose another group of people was given a different 100-item list in which the elephant picture appeared in the same position, but all the other items were also pictures of other objects and animals. Now the retrieval cue would not enable people to recall the picture of the elephant because the cue is no longer distinctive. Distinctive cues specify one or a few items of information.

Overt cues such as sights and sounds can clearly induce remembering. But evidence indicates that more subtle cues, such as moods and physiological states, can also influence our ability to recall events. State- dependent memory refers to the phenomenon in which people can retrieve information better if they are in the same physiological state as when they learned the information. The initial observations that aroused interest in state-dependent memory came from therapists working with alcoholic patients. When sober, patients often could not remember some act they performed when intoxicated. For example, they might put away a paycheck while intoxicated and then forget where they put it. This memory failure is not surprising, because alcohol and other depressant drugs (such as marijuana, sedatives, and even antihistamines) are known to impair learning and memory. However, in the case of the alcoholics, if they got drunk again after a period of abstinence, they sometimes recovered the memory of where the paycheck was. This observation suggested that perhaps drug-induced states function as a retrieval cue.

A number of studies have confirmed this hypothesis. In one typical experiment, volunteers drank an alcoholic or nonalcoholic beverage before studying a list of words. A day later, the same subjects were asked to recall as many of the words as they could, either in the same state as they were in during the learning phase (intoxicated or sober) or in a different state. Not surprisingly, individuals intoxicated during learning but sober during the test did worse at recall than those sober during both phases. In addition, people who studied material sober and then were tested while intoxicated did worse than those sober for both phases. The most interesting finding, however, was that people intoxicated during both the learning and test phase did much better at recall than those who were intoxicated only during learning, showing the effect of state- dependent memory (see the chart entitled “State-Dependent Memory”). When people are in the same state during study and testing, their recall is better than those tested in a different state. However, one should not conclude that alcohol improves memory. As noted, alcohol and other depressant drugs usually impair

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Experimental Psychology – PSY402 VU memory and most other cognitive processes. Those who had alcohol during both phases remembered less than those who were sober during both phases.

Psychologists have also studied the topic of mood-dependent memory. If people are in a sad mood when exposed to information, will they remember it better later if they are in a sad mood when they try to retrieve it? Although experiments testing this idea have produced mixed results, most find evidence for mood- dependent memory. Recall tests are usually more sensitive to mood- and state-dependent effects than are recognition or implicit memory tests. Recognition tests may provide powerful retrieval cues that overshadow the effects of more subtle state and mood cues. Mood- and state-dependent memory effects are further examples of the encoding specificity principle. If mood or drug state is encoded as part of the learning experience, then providing this cue during retrieval enhances performance.

Flashbulb Memories A flashbulb memory is an unusually vivid memory of an especially emotional or dramatic past event. For example, the death of Princess Diana in 1997 created a flashbulb memory for many people. People remember where they were when they heard the news, whom they heard it from, and other seemingly fine details of the event and how they learned of it. Examples of other public events for which many people have flashbulb memories are the assassination of U.S. President John F. Kennedy in 1963, the explosion of the space shuttle Challenger in 1986, and the bombing of the Oklahoma City federal building in 1995. Flashbulb memories may also be associated with vivid emotional experiences in one’s own life: the death of a family member or close friend, the birth of a baby, being in a car accident, and so on. Are flashbulb memories as accurate as they seem? In one study, people were asked the day after the Challenger explosion to report how they learned about the news. Two years later the same people were asked the same question. One-third of the people gave answers different from the ones they originally reported. For example, some people initially reported hearing about the event from a friend, but then two years later claimed to have gotten the news from television. Therefore, flashbulb memories are not faultless, as is often supposed.

Flashbulb memories may seem particularly vivid for a variety of reasons. First, the events are usually quite distinctive and hence memorable. In addition, many studies show that events causing strong emotion (either positive or negative) are usually well remembered. Finally, people often think about and discuss striking events with others, and this periodic rehearsal may help to increase retention of the memory.

Tip-of-the-Tongue State Another curious phenomenon is the tip-of-the-tongue state. This term refers to the situation in which a person tries to retrieve a relatively familiar word, name, or fact, but cannot quite do so. Although the missing item seems almost within grasp, its retrieval eludes the person for some time. The feeling has been described as like being on the brink of a sneeze. Most people regard the tip-of-the-tongue state as mildly unpleasant and its eventual resolution, if and when it comes, as a relief. Studies have shown that older adults are more prone to the tip-of-the-tongue phenomenon than are younger adults, although people of all ages report the experience. Often when a person cannot retrieve the correct bit of information, some other wrong item intrudes into one’s thoughts. For example, in trying to remember the name of a short, slobbering breed of dog with long ears and a sad face, a person might repeatedly retrieve beagle but know that it is not the right answer. Eventually the person might recover the sought-after name, basset hound. One theory of the tip-of-the tongue state is that the intruding item essentially clogs the retrieval mechanism and prevents retrieval of the correct item. That is, the person cannot think of basset hound because beagle gets in the way and blocks retrieval of the correct name. Another idea is that the phenomenon occurs when a person has only partial information that is simply insufficient to retrieve the correct item, so the failure is one of activation of the target item (basset hound in this example). Both the partial activation theory and the blocking theory could be partly correct in explaining the tip-of-the-tongue phenomenon.


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Experimental Psychology – PSY402 VU Atkinson, R.C. & Shiffrin, R.M. (1968) Human memory: A proposed system and its control processes. In K.W. Spence and J.T. Spence (Eds.), The psychology of learning and motivation, vol. 8. London: Academic Press.

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