Explanations of forgetting

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  • Explanations of forgetting
    • Retrieval failure theory
      • We forget as the correct retrieval cues aren't being used ('It's on the tip of my tongue!')
      • Cue dependent forgetting:
        • State dependent forgetting- absence of relevant psycho/physiological variables present during learning (internal cues)
        • Context dependent forgetting- relevant cues present when learning occurred aren't at recall (variables are external cues)
    • Lack of consolidation
      • If learning doesn't become fully recorded, such as due to lack of time, or interrupted by a bang on the head, STM isn't consolidated and memories aren't stored for long-term access
    • Trace decay
      • Neural traces left when information enters STM dies away without rehearsal
      • Hebb- whilst learning occurs, the engram (change in neural tissue representing what's learnt) eventually formed is delicate and liable to disruption as an active trace
        • With learning, the engram grows stronger and can become permanent
      • Only applies to STM, as when we rehearse material, corresponding activity causes a structural change- no longer a trace
    • Interference theory
      • Interference at the beginning of the storage process can prevent new information from entering LTM. As the LTM store grows, so does interference between competing memories
      • 2 types:
        • Retroactive- recent learning interferes with recalling past information
        • Proactive- earlier learning interferes with present learning
    • Displacement theory
      • When slots in STM are full, older items are displaced by incoming information
    • Motivated forgetting theory
      • Conscious memory causing anxiety is instead repressed into the inaccessible unconscious
      • People 'trying hard' to recall may stop/change the subject when nearly recalling
      • The more we try to recall, the more likely memory will be repressed
      • Unconscious memories can be accessed through Freudian techniques like free association, or break through in dreams or slips of the tongue
      • Repressed memories are retrieved when relevant emotional tension is released


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