Notes on Remembering and Forgetting

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Psychology Revision
Remembering and Forgetting
What is memory?
Memory is the retention of what we learn and what we experience
ENCODING: Process of translating information into a form in which it can be used, then
putting that coded information into our memory
STORAGE: the process of retaining information we have encoded
RETRIEVAL: When we access stored information
Models of Memory:
The MULSTISTORE memory model ­ simple way of looking at a complex matter
Sees cognitive processes as a sequence of stages and comparing them with operations of a
There are separate memory stores that vary in terms of coding, duration and capacity.
All our sensory experiences are recorded in the sense organs as a very brief sensory memory, most
of which is lost when the brief memory trace fades.
Different types of sensory memory have been identified: Iconic ­ visual sensory memory. Echoic ­
auditory sensory memory.
Retrieval loop
Input- Sensory memory Short term memory Long term memory output
Sensory memory Short-term memory Long-term memory
Capacity All sensory experience 7+/-2 items (can be Unlimited
increased by chunking)
Duration ¼ second ­ visual 18-30 seconds Unlimited
4 seconds - auditory
Coding In the form which it is Mainly phonological Mainly semantic i.e.
received i.e. sense i.e. sound based meaning based
Items can be stored in the short-term memory for longer than 30 seconds by verbally rehearing
information in the rehearsal loop. Another process is chunking which allows us to cope with more
than 7 items at a time in the short term memory.

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Primary-recency effect
Supports the MSM. Occurs when we try to recall a list of words in any order
Recall Primary effect Recency effect
Position of words in series
The first few words are mentally rehearsed so that we can remember them later, this transfers these
words into our long term memory. The last few words are retained in our short term memory for
long enough when the reader has finished speaking to enable us to recall them.…read more

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Some experiences are remembered whether we rehearse them or not i.e Flashbulb
memories of highly significant events i.e twin towers.
The MSM provides basis for much research into memory and remains important for
understanding the structures and processes involved in memory
The Working Memory Model
Baddeley and Hitch ­ extended the work on the multi-store model and developed a more
sophisticated understanding of short-term memory.
Working memory consists of these main components:
The central executive (CONTROLLER) controls and coordinates the operation of the other
components.…read more

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The working memory model explains only short-term memory and makes no attempt to
explain long-term memorising.
We know relatively little about the central executive, even though it is the most important
component of the model.
Levels of Processing
Craik and Lokhart (1972) proposed this alternative structure to models of memory, focusing on
memory processes NOT structure.
Information can be processed at a number of different levels of depth
Processing can be deep or shallow. Deeper processing results in more retrievable and long-lasting
memories.…read more

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The model has been updated, but the basics remain the same. Lockhart and Craik accept the
fact that it was oversimplified and that they had not considered retrieval processes in
significant detail.
Types of Long-term Memory#
Proposed by Tulving (1972)
Episodic: Long-term memory for events or episodes which we have experienced ourselves,
or we have heard about from another source. Events often link to a particular time or place
Semantic: world knowledge. Includes info about about the meanings of words and general
knowledge. E.g.…read more

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Aim: investigating forgetting in a short-term memory task
Method: participants had a list of 16 digits. In one condition, the list was presented at the rate of one
per second. In the other, it was presented at a rate of four per second. After presentation of the list,
participants were given a cue to indicate which of the sequence of 16 digits they had to recall.…read more

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Conclusion: Supports the interference theory rather than the decay theory
Although the effects of interference have been demonstrated in experiments, there
is no real explanation of why these affects occur or of the cognitive processes occur
Most research into the effects of interference on forgetting involves artificial stimuli
­ usually lists of unrelated words ­ and the studies have taken place in a lab.…read more

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Godden and Baddeleys finsdings in the underwater study occur only when
participants are asked to perform free recall, and not when the test involves
recognition. So retrieval failure may not explain the insances of forgetting that occur
with other forms of recall
The context-dependent nature of memory has been demonstrated many times and
it is not even necessary to be in the same environment i.e.…read more

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Brain research suggests that the pattern
of activity between connecting neurons forms the basis for making a memory.
Yarnell and Lynch (1970)
Aim: to investigate the effects of head trauma and concussion on memory loss
Method: field study of American footballers who had been concussed during the game.…read more

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Results: in extended interviews about their sexual histories, 30% of women failed to report the
abusive episode documented by the hospital. They did quite often report their general experience
of having been abused
Conclusion: some participants failed to recall specific incidents of abuse because these had been
The general problem is that it cannot be tested easily, defence mechanisms are unconscious
processes, so cannot be investigated.…read more


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