Episodic and Semantic memory - Tulving (1972)


Background Information

  • Tulving believed that the explanation of long term memory as described in the multi-store model was too simplistic and that actually there are a number of of types of memory within the long-term memory store
  • Tulving believes that there are two parts which are; semantic (declarative) memory stores and episodic memory stores which both differ in the nature of how information is stored, as well as in how information is retrieved and how interference might affect them
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Episodic Memory - Mental Diary

  • Episodic Memory is autobiographical (memories about the individual) so is the memory for events that happen to us so if therefore a continuous memory of a whole event.
  • Episodic memory receives and stores information that is personal to the individual such as dates, times and events that relate to them.
  • This information can be encoded in various ways such as smells, visual and emotional material as information is perceptually encoded.
  • Episodic memories differ largely from semantic as they are auto-biographical, as they involve an element of the individual, so are encoded and sotred with personal information.
  • Tulving believes that episodic memories are stored and encoded according to how they are experienced so they are encoded in time and space (where and when they were recorded) and was perceived at the event
  • Retrieval
  • The concept of cue dependent recall has been extensively researched in psychology. It has been established that we encode, alongside the memory, the context and the emotional state we experienced at the time of learning.
  • These context and state cues can be used to aid recall of the original memory.
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Supporting evidence for Episodic memories - Godden

  • Found that when scuba divers learned and recalled a list of words underwater or on land, they performed twice as well as when learning and recalling in the same context to where it was learnt.
  • As the capacity of long-term memory is potentially unlimited it is suggested that as episodic memories are encoded in long term memory these have unlimited capacity too.
  • Recall of episodic memory is dependent on the context in which the event was initially learned or experienced. It is this context that aids the retrieval of episodic memories.
  • Tulving believes episodic memory is susceptible to transformation/change due to the fact that it is dependent on context to recall.
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Semantic Memory - memory for facts and your mental

  • Semantic memory is cognitive (meaning we give things) so is the memory for meanings of words and symbols - input is fragmentary
  • Semantic memory is needed for language as words have meanings and meanings must be encoded, stored and retrieved for there to be language to use.
  • This can also relate to symbols as we hav to put meaning too, store and retrieve symbols (as well as understanding the language behind the symbol)
  • Semantic memories, unlike episodic memories, do not seem to be recorded or organise according to the place or time in which they were encoded
  • As the capacity of long term memory is potentially unlimited it is suggested that as semantic memories are encoded in long term memory these have an unlimited capacity too.
  • Retrieval of semantic memories, unlike episodic, does not change the actual memory (not susceptible to change/ transformation)
  • Semantic memory does not seem to be dependent on the context in which it was learned, so it is assumed that retrieval of semantic memories is not dependent on context to aid recall and sematic memory leaves the memory trace unchanged from original form.
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