Week 8 - Autobiographical Memory

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  • Created by: Shannon
  • Created on: 01-06-16 20:30
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  • Week 8 - Autobiographical Memory
    • Definition
      • Our memory of ourselves and our own experiences and observations
    • Semantic AM
      • Memory for factual information about ourselves
        • Name, marital status and academic qualifications
    • Episodic AM
      • Memory of particular events
        • Memory of the moment you found out your exam results but might not remember your results
    • Controlled, Conscious AM
      • Results of deliberate effort to recall information about one's past
        • Often occurs in interaction with others
          • Helped by props such as photos, diaries and possessions
    • Transactional Memory System
      • Couples rely on each other remember things about themselves
    • Automatic, involuntary AM
      • Memories that 'pop' into our heads
        • Primed by a sensory stimulus such as tune and smell
          • Controlled by the hippocampus - a primitive part of the brain
    • AM is reconstructive
      • Human memory does not store literal records of past experiences
        • It involves reconstruction of events
          • Gist is remembered better than specific detail
            • Bartlett (1932)
              • We encode, interpret and recall information in a way that is consistent with personal and cultural schemas
                • Concerning what is 'normal' or to be expected
    • False memories
      • We can honestly believe something has happened to us - Introspection Illuision
        • Episodic memory supplemented by confabulation - fill in gaps to make our story coherent
          • Memory of actual experience is distorted
            • Misattribution - e.g mistakenly believing a conversation happened but it didn't
              • We tend to be overconfident in the accuracy of our personal memories
    • Guided Narrative in the development of AM
      • Memory scaffolding by caregivers
        • Adults reminiscence style
          • Low elaborative
            • Spend less time talking about the past - ask few supplementary questions
          • High elaborative
            • Expand upon events, prompt child to give longer answers
              • Encourage child to supplement the key narrative with memories of emotional experience
    • Young Children's AM
      • Fragmented episodic memories
        • Good gist memory
          • Little elaboration or peripheral detail
      • Distinct memories not bound together into thematic sotries
        • 8 year olds - Tells the story of their life as a jumble of interesting episodes
          • 12 years old - Construct sequential narrative - mostly list of transition points - content is rather sparse
            • 16-20 - start to construct life stories with a thematic coherence which feature key self-defining memories
    • Functions of AM
      • Social functions - establish and maintain our relationships with others
      • Identity functions - Establish and maintain a satisfactory current self-concept
        • Self-enhancement
          • AM = part of the psychological immune system
            • We tend to recall positive life events better than negative life events
              • Fading affect bias = Tendency to recall positive emotions such as child birth - forget pain
                • Age-related positively effect = Older people remember fewer negative episodes of their lives than young people
    • AM is essential for the maintenance of social relationships
      • Social organisation depends on remembering our previous experiences with, and obligations towards others
        • Relational self-awareness
          • Reciprocity heuristic
    • Problems of AM
      • Amnesia = Remembering too little
        • Amnesia for early childhood
          • Adults have relatively few personal memories for events before the age of 10
            • In Western societies - average age for earliest memories is 3.5 years
              • Adults unable to retrieve episodic memories before age of 2 - infantile amnesia
                • Infantile amnesia - Freud
                  • Early childhood memories :
                    • Are sexual
                      • Are repressed but remain formant in the unconscious
                        • Can be accessed through psychoanalysis
          • Traumatic memories tend to not be repressed - they are hyperaccessible
          • Young children dont have the language skills necessary to
            • Encode highly elaborated memories of particular experences
              • Arrange their episodic memories into a coherent narrative
                • Reminiscence bump @ 25
                  • Due to developmental changes in cognitive abilities
                    • Going through identity crisis - more time spent thinking about oneself
      • Hyperthymesia - Remembering too much
        • Extraordinary recall of events related to personal past
          • Spend abnormal amount of time thinking about personal past
            • Can recall past experiences without conscious effort
              • Can be associated with OCD
                • Can cause cognitive overload
                  • Often socially dysfunctional
      • Intrusive memories
        • Post-traumatic stress disorder
          • Flashbacks // Past events re-experience // Temporary loss of current self-awareness
        • Involuntary // Uncontrollable // Often Visual // Distressing
        • Rumination
          • Compulsive recurrent memory of past events
            • Attention focused on symptoms / causes of distress as opposed to possible solutions
    • Transitional firsts - 90% of our vivid life memories concern unique or first time events
      • Flash bulb memories
        • Enduring, vivid, detailed memories for especially surprising emotionally charged events
        • Involves events of personal importance
        • Often functions as landmarks in our life stories
    • Implanted memory - Been told the memory over and over again
      • Can start to see visuals of the memory even though it was false
    • Autobiographical memory in the courtroom
      • Eye witness testimony is likely to be believed by jurors, especially when it is offered with a high level of confidence
      • Assumption about memory in the CJS
        • Judges often express confidence in a jury's ability to distingusih true from false memories
        • Police, lawyers etc use strategic repeapt questioning to uncover an accurate recording of an event
        • Extreme emotional arousal may lead perpetrators to violence to experience amnesia for their actions
      • Concerns about using memory as evidence in CJS
        • Details of AM = inaccurate
        • EWT can often be flawed
          • 40% identified attacker
          • 23% identified person not there
          • 36% identified bystander
        • No evidence that heightened emotional arousal undermines the encoding of episodic memories
        • The practice of obtaining memory evidence can potentially distort memories  e.g. leading questions
        • Juries are, in fact quite bad at distingusihing reliable from unreliable memory testimony
      • Recovered memory
        • Most criminal cases for childhood abused based on recovered memories
          • Repressed material can be returned to consciousness with the removal of stress
            • Mounted evidence that childhood memories can be implanted

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