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Experimental Psychology – PSY402 VU LESSON 11
The Biological Basis of Memory Engrams are a hypothetical means by which memory traces are stored as biophysical or biochemical change in the brain (and other neural tissue) in response to external stimuli. They are also sometimes thought of as a neural network or fragment of memory; sometimes using a hologram analogy to describe its action in light of results showing that memory appears to be non-localized in the brain. The existence of engrams is posited by some scientific theories to explain the persistence of memory and how memories are stored in the brain. The existence of neurologically defined engrams is not significantly disputed, though its exact mechanism and location has been a persistent focus of research for many decades.
Karl S. Lashley experimented for “search for the engram" and found that the engram did not exist in a specific part of the brain, but discovered that memory was widely distributed throughout the cortex. One possible explanation for Lashley's failure to locate the engram is that many types of memories (eg. visuo- spacial, smell, etc.) are used in the processing of complex tasks such as rats running mazes. Now the general view in neuroscience is that memory involved in complex tasks is distributed across multiple neural systems. At the same time, certain types of knowledge are processed and contained in specific brain regions. Gerrig and Zimbardo (2005) Psychology and Life (17th edition: International edition) Overall, the mechanisms of memory are not well understood. Brain areas such as the cerebellum, striatum, cerebral cortex, hippocampus, and the amygdala are thought to play an important role in the memory. For example, the hippocampus is believed to be involved in spatial learning and declarative learning.
In Lashley's experiments (1929, 1950), rats were trained to run mazes then the experimenter removed tissue from the rats' cortex and ran them through the same maze to see if their memory would be affected. It was found that increasing the amount of tissue removed further degraded the rats' memory. More importantly "where" the tissue was removed from made no difference to the rats' memory of the maze. Later researcher, Richard F. Thompson, sought the engram of memory in the cerebellum instead of the cerebral cortex. Thompson and his colleagues used classical conditioning of the eyelid response in rabbits in their search for an engram. They puffed air upon the cornea of the eye and paired it with a tone. This air puff normally causes an automatic blinking response. After a number of trials they conditioned the rabbits to blink when they heard the tone even though the air puff was no longer administered. During the experiment, they monitored several brain cells to try to locate the engram.
One brain region that Thompson's group monitored that they thought was a possible part of the memory engram was the Lateral Interposed Nucleus (LIP). When chemically deactivated, it resulted in the rabbits, which were previously conditioned to blink when hearing the tone, to act as if the conditioning never took place; however, when researchers re-activated the LIP, they responded to the tone again with an eye blink. This gives evidence that the LIP is a key element of the engram for this behavioral response. It is important to stress that this approach targeting the cerebellum, though relatively successful, only examines basic, automatic responses. Almost all animals have these (especially as defense mechanisms) and it is fairly difficult to resist them.
The problem here is that considerable studies have shown declarative memories tend to move about the brain between the limbic system (deep within the brain) and the outer cortical areas. This contrasts with the more "primitive" set-up of the cerebellum, which controls the blinking response and receives direct input of auditory information. Thus, it does not need to reach out to other brain structures for assistance in forming simpler memories of association.
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Experimental Psychology – PSY402 VU Mnemonic Techniques and Specific Memory Tricks to Improve Memory
Mnemonic devices are methods used to improve your memory. Most people when referring to a mnemonic device are referring to a trick that one uses to help memorize something. Mnemonic devices are not only helpful with memorizing facts, they can help remember peoples' names and faces, a grocery list.
Organization Finding organization to what you need to memorize is often critical to understand the information. If you are able to group what you need to remember into categories, you process the information in more depth. You add meaning to what you are learning by making a judgment about the nature of the information. In some cases, you are incorporating the new knowledge with information you already know. This can be very helpful. Subjective organization is categorizing seemingly unrelated items in a way that helps you recall the items later. (Benjamin, Hopkins, & Nation, 1994. p.266) This is useful because it breaks down the amount of information to learn. If you can divide a list of items into a fewer number of categories, then all you have to remember is the categories (fewer items), which will serve as memory cues so that you will also remember the items. Reducing the amount of items to remember is valuable when trying to remember a lot of information. Once you have determined what information is necessary to memorize, you can reduce the number of items you must remember by grouping, or chunking, the information. The human memory spans approximately seven. Several phone numbers use seven digits. However, what about area or country codes, where the person dialing must remember more than 7 digits? He or she can chunk the numbers together, thus reducing the number of items to be remembered, but not the amount of information!
Acronyms You form acronyms by using each first letter from a group of words to form a new word. This is particularly useful when remembering words in a specified order. Acronyms are very common in ordinary language and in many fields. Some examples of common acronyms include NBA (National Basketball Associations), SCUBA (Self Contained Underwater Breathing Apparatus), BTUs (British Thermal Units), and LASER (Light Amplification by Stimulated Emission of Radiation). What other common acronyms can you think of? The memory techniques in this section, for example, can be rearranged to form the acronym "SCRAM" (Sentences/acrostics, Chunking, Rhymes & songs, Acronyms, and Method of loci). Let us suppose that you have to memorize the names of four kinds of fossils for your geology class: 1) actual remains, 2) Petrified, 3) Imprint, and 4) Molds or casts. Take the first letter of each item you are trying to remember: APIM. Then, arrange the letters so that the acronym resembles a word you are familiar with: PAIM or IMAP. Although acronyms can be very useful memory aids, they do have some disadvantages. First, they are useful for rote memory, but do not aid comprehension. Be sure to differentiate between comprehension and memory, keeping in mind that understanding is often the best way to remember. Some people assume that if they can remember something that they must "know" it; but memorization does not necessarily imply understanding. A second problem with acronyms is that they can be difficult to form; not all lists of words will lend themselves equally well to this technique. Finally, acronyms, like everything else, can be forgotten if not committed to memory.
Rhymes Rhythm, repetition, melody, and rhyme can all aid memory. Are you familiar with Homer's Odyssey? If you are familiar with the book, then you know that it is quite long. That is why it is so remarkable to realize that this, along with many ancient Greek stories, was told by storytellers who would rely solely on their memories. The use of rhyme, rhythm, and repetition helped the storytellers remember them. You can use the same techniques to better remember information from courses. For example, even the simple addition of familiar rhythm and melody can help. Do you remember learning the alphabet? Many children learn the letters of the alphabet to the tune of "Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star." In fact, a student demonstrated how she memorized the quadratic formula (notorious among algebra students for being long and difficult to remember) by singing it to a familiar tune!
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Experimental Psychology – PSY402 VU Using these techniques can be fun, particularly for people who like to create. Rhymes and songs draw on your auditory memory and may be particularly useful for those who can learn tunes, songs, or poems easily. Like the other techniques in this section, however, they emphasize rote memory, not understanding also, when devising rhymes and songs, don't spend too much time creating them. Use these techniques judiciously and don't let them interfere with your studying. Familiar rhymes from grade school such as nursery rhymes, spelling rhymes, etc.
EXAMPLE: Thirty days has September, April, June, and November; all the rest have thirty-one except February.
Chunking This is a technique generally used when remembering numbers, although the idea can be used for remembering other things as well. It is based on the idea that short-term memory is limited in the number of things that can be contained. A common rule is that a person can remember 7 (plus or minus 2) "items" in short-term memory. In other words, people can remember between 5 and 9 things at one time. You may notice that local telephone numbers have 7 digits. This is convenient because it is the average amount of numbers that a person can keep in his or her mind at one time.
Look at the following chunks of letters: T WAN BAC BSC PRC IA At first glance, it seems like they would be difficult to memorize. However, with simple chunking, look at them now: TWA NBA CBS CPR CIA These common acronyms are already familiar to many people. For those who the letters are now in meaningful chunks, they are easier to remember. S.F. was a college student who could remember 80 digits after practicing for 230 hours! How did he do it? This cross-country runner memorized the numbers was by grouping them into sets of 3-4 digits each. He memorized these values as running times for different track races, or as ages or significant dates. (Yount, p. 76) Master chess players also use chunking as well. They will remember certain strategies for particular patterns on the board and fit them together with the other "chunks" on the board. This helps reduce their playing time greatly. (Ellis & Hunt, 1989)(Benjamin, Hopkins, & Nation, 1994. p.258)
Method of Loci This technique was used by ancient orators to remember speeches, and it combines the use of organization, visual memory, and association. Before using the technique, you must identify a common path that you walk. This can be the walk from your dorm to class, a walk around your house, whatever is familiar. What is essential is that you have a vivid visual memory of the path and objects along it. Once you have determined your path, imagine yourself walking along it, and identify specific landmarks that you will pass. For example, the first landmark on your walk to campus could be your dorm room, next may be the front of the residence hall, next a familiar statue you pass, etc. The number of landmarks you choose will depend on the number of things you want to remember. Once you have determined your path and visualized the landmarks, you are ready to use the path to remember your material. This is done by mentally associating each piece of information that you need to remember with one of these landmarks. For example, if you are trying to remember a list of mnemonics, you might remember the first--acronyms--by picturing SCUBA gear in your dorm room (SCUBA is an acronym). You do not have to limit this to a path. You can use the same type of technique with just about any visual image that you can divide into specific sections. The most important thing is that you use something with which you are very familiar.
EXERCISE: METHOD OF LOCI
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1. If someone reads a list of unrelated words to you, just once, how many do you think you could remember? Give it a try. Have someone read a list of 10 words to you at a slow but steady pace (about 1 word per second). Rather than using any of the memory techniques presented here, simply try to concentrate on the words and remember them. How many words did you remember? 2. Now take a few minutes to identify a path or object that you can use in the method of loci. Familiarize yourself with each of sections of your path or object. Mentally go through each of the loci (locations) and visualize them as best you can. Remember, it is important to be able to visualize and recall each location readily. Once you have done this, have your friend read you a different list of words. This time, try to create visual images of the words associated with one of the locations. This may not come easy at first, but with practice you should be able to create these visual images more readily. If you find that you are having difficulty coming up with the images quickly, practice on some more lists until you have improved. Chances are, when you become familiar with using this technique, you will be able to remember many more words (maybe all 10 items). 3. Practice the technique to sharpen your skills.
Imagery Imagery is used to memorize pairs of words very often. An image is created for each word, and then the two images are connected through mental visualization. ( Benjamin, Hopkins, & Natio, 1994.p.267) Imagery is a great way to improve your memory. The more vivid or startling you can create the mental picture, the more likely you are to remember whatever it is you are trying to remember. Imagery is used as a part of several more complex mnemonic divices, such as the method of loci, or the peg system. Try an activity to practice using imagery as a mnemonic device.
External Memory Devices External memory devices are just that - objects outside of the body that you use to help you remember something. People should not be embarrassed to use an external memory device. They are actually quite a good idea. They are usually easier and require less training practice. (Remembering Well). Here, we give some examples of external memory devices. Each situation has certain strategies that work better than others. Likewise, each person has certain strategies that work better than others for them. Pick strategies that work for you and your situation. Parking lots /garage with signs/code are helpful Cars - can't lock doors with lights on, only lock from outside Light/alarm when low on petrol or oil or when lights on & engine off
Organization & Ideas Back-up records - could be for a computer, financial papers. Financial record Notebooks Phonebooks Filing cabinet Programming phones with numbers to dial for you Note-taking Bookmarks Post-it notes Organizers Electronic organizers Files Bookmarks Date-stamping on camera Object organizer Cheque-book Manager (Gruneberg & Herrmann, 1997, p. 8) Knowledge Dictionary / encyclopedia Recipe book
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Experimental Psychology – PSY402 VU Notes - take them during a lecture! Tapes - if your professor allows it, tape a lecture so you can listen to it again later. Flashcards - repetition Map Alarm Devices For alarms for things such as cooking, be sure you will be able to hear the alarm! Portable timers are very useful. Credit card alarm - This is a special wallet that will sound an alarm if a credit card is taken out and it is shut without the credit card being placed back in the wallet. (Gruneberg & Herrmann, 1997, p. 82) Medication Reminders - Pill boxes with an incorporated alarm are available. One can put the medication inside the pill box and set the alarm that will sound when it is time to take the medication. Alarm clock - reminds your body to wake up Timer - for cooking, turning off a sprinkler, practicing an instrument, etc. Car finder - when you forgot where you parked, you can use this device to cause its lights to blink and or its horn to sound, so you can find your car. Key finder - The whistle-activated key-ring has had mixed results. It is a device that addresses a problem all of us have - losing your keys. When you whistle, the key-ring will beep so that you can find your keys. Unfortunately, it often beeps when you aren't looking for your keys but a whistle-like sound is made. (Gruneberg & Herrmann, 1997, p. 82) We suggest you learn to always place your keys in the same place instead. Appointments / Chores Addressbooks Calendars List - for shopping, packing, things to do, etc. Nametags / Labels - in case you lose something. ... in hopes that someone will return it .. Smart Irons - It is not uncommon for someone to get distracted while ironing and have to leave the ironning board for a moment. Perhaps the phone rang or someone came to the door. Leaving the iron down on a piece of clothing can be dangerous - not only can it burn the piece of clothing being ironed, it could even start a fire! Fortunately, some irons are now available that will automatically turn off if left lying flat and is still for more than 30 seconds. (Gruneberg & Herrmann, 1997, p. 82) People Name tages Photo board - This is especially good for remembering fellow staff-members. Experiences Diary Camera - photographs Video camera tape recorder Messages White/black board (it won't get lost!) Bulletin board Memo pad Post-it notes Message machine - for the telephone General reminders If these work for you, great! But beware: sometimes it is difficult to remember what the reminder was for! Watch on opposite wrist String on finger Rubber band around wrist Lost Items If you often find yourself losing something in particular, put it in a special place. Train yourself to ALWAYS return it to this place when you are done. It is helpful if you put it in a function-related spots. For example: put your keys by the door. Put your medicine either with your food or by your toothpaste (depending on when you take your medication.
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Famous people with excellent memories There is a myth about Napoleon Bonaparte's excellent memory. Perhaps it is partially true, who knows. Anyway the story goes that Napoleon memorized the rosters of his units. Every time he was to review the troops, he would greet the soldiers by name, causing them to feel a personal connection to their French emperor. (Kurland and Lupoff, 1999, p. 3-4) Franklin Roosevelt, president from ____ to _____, is also said to have a good memory. In reception lines, Roosevelt would not only greet each person by name, he would ask a question of, or comment about, each person, showing his interest. Roosevelt used a terrific external memory device. His advisor, James Farley, kept a file of index cards on every such person Roosevelt might come across in such occasions. Before such occasions, he would brief Roosevelt beforehand, who would memorize a key question, brief story, or fact. (Kurland and Lupoff, 1999, p. 4) Arturo Toscanini was the conductor of the ______ orchestra. This man had poor vision, but a terrific musical memory. Instead of following along with the score as he conducted, he memorized the entire score for each concert! He knew every note played by every instrument for 250 symphonies adn 100 operas! There is a legend that a man in Toscanini's orchestra who played second bassoon came to his conductor and said that he could not play the lowest F-sharp because of a broken key. But after a brief pause, Mistro Toscanini replied that it would not be a problem; that note would not be needed for the concert that night! (Yount, p. 70-71)
The following are examples of techniques you can use to memorize important information.
When to Use It:Technique:Example:
For information involving key words
Acronym - an invented combination of letters with each letter acting as a cue to an idea you need to remember.
BRASS is an acronym for how to shoot a rifle-- Breath, Relax, Aim, Sight, Squeeze.
For information involving key words
Acrostic - an invented sentence where the first letter of each word is a cue to an idea you need to remember.
EVERY GOOD BOY DESERVES FUN is an acrostic to remember the order of the G-clef notes on sheet music-- E,G,B,D,F.
For ordered or unordered lists
Rhyme-Keys - a 2-step memory process: Memorize key words that can be associated with numbers (one-bun); Create an image of the items you need to remember with key words. (A bun with cheese on it will remind me of dairy products.)
Food groups: Dairy products: one-bun-cheese on a bun. Meat, fish, and poultry: two-shoe-livestock with shoes. Grains: three-tree-sack of grain hanging from tree. Fruit and vegetables: four-door- opening a door and walking into a room stocked with fruits and vegetables.
For approximately twenty items
Loci Method- Imagine placing the items you want to remember in specific locations in a room with which you are familiar.
To remember presidents: Place a dollar bill (George Washington) on the door. Walk into the room and see Jefferson reclining on a sofa and Nixon eating out of the refrigerator.
For foreign language
Keyword Method- Select the foreign words you need to remember, then
In Spanish, the word "cabina" means phone booth. Invent an image of a cab
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vocabulary identify an English word that sounds like the foreign one. Now imagine an image that involves the key word with the English meaning of the foreign word.
trying to fit in a phone booth. When you see the word "cabina," you should be able to recall this image and thereby retrieve the meaning "phone booth."
For remembering names
Image-Name Technique- invent a relationship between the name and the physical characteristics of the person.
Shirley Temple - her curly (rhymes with "Shirley") hair around her temples.
For ordered or unordered lists
Chaining- Create a story where each word or idea you have to remember will cue the next idea you need to recall.
Napoleon, ear, door, Germany Story: Napoleon had his ear to the door to listen to the Germans in his beer cellar.
Two Keys to Memory Repetition and association are two essential components to any memory technique. Repetition Mnemonic devices demand active participation and a constant repetition of the material to be memorized. It is meaningful practice which involves familiarizing yourself with a list, trying to memorize it, duplicating it, and then checking it yourself. Association: New knowledge is more effectively stored in long term memory when it is associated with anything that is familiar. Mnemonics focus on a creative association that you can’t help but remember.
http://library.thinkquest.org/C0110291/tricks/index.php http://www.bucks.edu/~specpop/mnemonics.htm http://www.pointloma.edu/Tutorial_Services/Study_Tips____Hints/Studying_and_Note- Taking/Mnemonic_Devices.htm http://dic.academic.ru/dic.nsf/enwiki/381450 http://www.web-us.com/memory/mnemonic_techniques.htm
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