Memory and attention

  • Created by: Mp13001
  • Created on: 21-02-20 18:27

Information processing networks

  • Limit to how much information we can process at once
  • machinery for bringing information in
  • machinery for processing information
  • processed information is used for something

weak analogy = computers as a metaphor for thought

strong analogy = computers as a simulation of thought

  • as children age their brains mature, advances in:
  • input
  • processing
  • output

leads to increasing abilities to process and respond to perceptual information

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Studying memory in preverbal infants

visual paired comparison task

habituation task

operant conditioning: baseline --> learning --> memory test --> temporal delay --> memory test 2

elicited imitation: preverbal infants can demonstrate they remember an event by imitating it 

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Time: how long is needed to encode what is seen

  • 12m = 10s
  • 6m = 20s

stimulus complexity: 

  • 2-3m = simple visual forms, 4s
  • 4m = more complex, 17s
  • 5-6m = most complex, 20-25s
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Storage: retention phase

How long do infants rmember what they have learned in phase 2?

memory retention increases more or less linearly with age over the first year and a half of life

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1-6m = won't retrieve memory of association if presented with new mobile

9-12m = will retrieve memory of association with a different train

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Memory strategies

  • rehearsal
  • organisation
  • elaboration


  • understanding of how memory is encoded, retained, retrieved 
  • the ability to select strategies that optimise performance
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Short-term memory


  • recall of word lists
  • digit span
  • pattern recall
  • listening span

dyslexia: phonological loop

dyscalculia: visual-spatial sketchpad

ADHD: central executive

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Long-term memory

Procedural / implicit: infants anticipate where the object will go 

declarative / explicit: imitation of sequences of actions. 9m = no clear imitiation, 10m = imitation

semantic memory: source monitoring

episodic memory: may be due to an improvement in retention

autobiographical memory: improving narrative

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alerting = cue indicates presence of target in environment and provides some information about the target. Improves considerably across early school years

joint attention:

  • <6m = dyadic,exchange looks and facial expressions
  • 6m = follow gaze cues
  • 8-9m = triadic, follow pointing cues

executive function = control and co-ordinate cognitive processes during the performance of complex cognitive operations:

  • inhibition
  • updating working memory
  • shifting / flexibility 
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Enhancing executive function

  • computerised training
  • aerobic exercise, sports, martial arts
  • mindfulness practices
  • school curricula
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  • 2-4% of primary school children
  • 70-80% heritability
  • genes linked to dopaminergic and serotonergic pathways
  • maternal substance misuse, prematurity, nutritional deficiencies, exposure to environmental toxicants

assessed by questionnaires and clinical interviews


  • psychosocial intervention
  • psychostimulants
  • noradrenergic reuptake inhibitors

there is lots of variance in prevalence and treatments across countries

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