In this chapter, we learned that:
- The human memory is capable of astounding feats.
- There are different types of memory including our memory for events (episodic memory) and facts (semantic memory).
- There are three stages of the memory/learning process: encoding, storage, and retrieval. Failure to encode and forgetting prevent us from accessing information.
- Using memory strategies such as mnemonics can help to improve our ability to encode and retrieve information.
Review your understanding of this chapter’s key concepts by taking the interactive quiz below.
Key terms from this chapter include:
Episodic memory is the ability to remember the episodes of our lives. If you were given the task of recalling everything you did 2 days ago, that would be a test of episodic memory; you would be required to mentally travel through the day in your mind and note the main events. See 6.2 Varieties of Memory
Semantic memory is our storehouse of more-or-less permanent knowledge, such as the meanings of words in a language (e.g., the meaning of “parasol”) and the huge collection of facts about the world (e.g., there are 196 countries in the world, and 206 bones in your body). See 6.2 Varieties of Memory
Remembering specific events that have happened over the course of one’s entire life (e.g., your experiences in sixth grade) can be referred to as autobiographical memory. See 6.2 Varieties of Memory
Encoding refers to the initial experience of perceiving and learning information. See 6.2 Varieties of Memory
Storage refers to maintaining information over time. See 6.2 Varieties of Memory
Retrieval is the key process in memory and describes are ability to call up information we have learned; it's given more prominence than encoding or storage because if information were encoded and stored but could not be retrieved, it would be useless. See 6.2 Varieties of Memory
Distinctiveness refers to having an event stand out as quite different from a background of similar events -- this is key to remembering events. In addition, when vivid memories are tinged with strong emotional content, they often seem to leave a permanent mark on us. See 6.2 Varieties of Memory
The term flashbulb memory was originally coined by Brown and Kulik (1977) to describe this sort of vivid memory of finding out an important piece of news. The name refers to how some memories seem to be captured in the mind like a flash photograph; because of the distinctiveness and emotionality of the news, they seem to become permanently etched in the mind with exceptional clarity compared to other memories. See 6.2 Varieties of Memory
The process of encoding always involves recoding—that is, taking the information from the form it is delivered to us and then converting it in a way that we can make sense of it. For example, you might try to remember the colors of a rainbow by using the acronym ROY G BIV (red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo, violet). See 6.2 Varieties of Memory
Psychologists (and neurobiologists) say that experiences leave memory traces, or engrams (the two terms are synonyms). We encode each of our experiences within the structures of the nervous system, making new impressions in the process—and each of those impressions involves changes in the brain. See 6.2 Varieties of Memory
Psychologists (and neurobiologists) say that experiences leave memory traces, or engrams (the two terms are synonyms). Memories have to be stored somewhere in the brain, so in order to do so, the brain biochemically alters itself and its neural tissue. See also Engrams in 6.2 Varieties of Memory
Consolidation: is defined as the neural changes that occur after learning to create the memory trace of an experience. See 6.2 Varieties of Memory
Retroactive interference refers to new activities during the retention interval that interfere with retrieving the specific, older memory. But just as newer things can interfere with remembering older things, so can the opposite happen. See 6.2 Varieties of Memory
This misinformation effect in eyewitness memory represents a type of retroactive interference that can occur during the retention interval. Of course, if correct information is given during the retention interval, the witness’s memory will usually be improved. See 6.2 Varieties of Memory
The encoding specificity principle suggests that when people encode information, they do so in specific ways. In general, the encoding specificity principle states that, to the extent a retrieval cue (a song) matches or overlaps the memory trace of an experience ( at a party, or a conversation), it will be effective in evoking the memory. See 6.2 Varieties of Memory
To be effective, a retrieval cue cannot be overloaded with too many memories: this is known as the cue overload principle. See 6.2 Varieties of Memory
Mnemonic devices are memory aids or tricks to recall information. In a typical case, the person learns a set of cues and then applies these cues to learn and remember information. See 6.3 Putting it All Together: Improving Your Memory