Memory: A Very Short Introduction (Very Short Introductions)

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Cued recall tends to be somewhat easier for respondents than free recall, while recognition tends to be easier than either free or cued recall who seemed familiar, although you were unable to recognize them explicitly. Indeed, one of the mechanisms underlying the success of advertising is that it makes particular products more familiar, and people tend to prefer familiar things to more unfamiliar ones. Please refer to the mere exposure effect cited in Chapter 2. Memory The effect of context on recall and recognition Recall can be quite susceptible to the effects of context, but recognition is typically less susceptible.

This has been shown, for example, in divers who were asked to remember information underwater or on dry land, and then had their memory tested either in the same location or in a different location.


  1. Memory : a very short introduction / Jonathan K. Foster | National Library of Australia.
  2. Epistemology (First Books in Philosophy)!
  3. Modeling and Inverse Problems in the Presence of Uncertainty;
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In two famous studies, Godden and Baddeley asked divers to remember information either on the shore or underwater. The divers were then tested either a in the same context, or b in a different context. So the divers remembered far more information if they were asked to learn underwater and then were tested underwater, or if they learned on land and then were tested on land.

ABC transcript of Enough Rope interview So we observe these state-dependent memory and forgetting effects, as well as physical context-dependent effects. But if they learn while calm and then are memory tested while calm, or learn while they are excited and then are tested while excited, then their performance tends to be better. So relaxation therapy may be advisable for you in such circumstances, to try to ensure that you are in a similar psychological and physiological state at the time of the exam as you were when you were revising.

State-dependent effects on memory seem to occur under a variety of different circumstances, but — in systematic experimental studies — they are also found consistently only when memory is tested using free recall. Several factors may explain the state-dependent sensitivity of free recall. For example, different psycho-active states could lead people to adopt unusual encoding or retrieval strategies which are incompatible which those they use when they are not in those states. Marijuana intoxication, for instance, causes people to make unusual associations in reaction to stimuli.

This could be critical in mediating free recall, because here the participant has to generate appropriate contextual cues or information to aid their remembering. But in cued recall and recognition, some information is actually provided about the target items to the respondent, and so the potential for a mismatch between encoding and retrieval operations is substantially reduced — because a certain amount of the information that had been presented at the time of learning is re-presented at the time of test and is therefore constant. It can be measured by comparing behaviour following some event with the behaviour that arises if that event did not occur.

If two groups of people are compared — comprising some people who encountered an assertion, and some people who did not — the difference in beliefs is likely to represent a measure of the degree of priming from the earlier encounter. Here is another example of priming. A researcher might measure how long it takes people to solve or complete the fragment to make a real English word i.

As we noted in Chapter 2, if information has been previously encountered, subsequent encounters with the same information may be different due to the previous encounter — even in the absence of any overt signs of memory. But unconscious effects of memory may be problematic. It was found that people were more likely to believe these assertions if they had been encountered in a previous memory experiment — even if people could not remember these assertions in any other way.

These unconscious effects of memory may be responsible for the effectiveness in a social context of some behavioural methods, such as propaganda. And, as we saw in Chapter 2, people with amnesia can perform this type of task well. The difference in the time needed to respond to the cue is an example of priming — one type of evidence for memory i. Memory Categories versus continuum? We might consider the behaviours from which memory is inferred as existing along a continuum: free recall.

This view suggests that differences among these various manifestations of memory are due to the memories having different strengths or different availability. It would follow from this position that where memory is strong and available, free recall is possible — along with all of the other demonstrations of memory. For example, the ability to recall information does not always mean that the information will be correctly recognized. Furthermore, some variables have the opposite effect on recognition and recall performance, such as word frequency.

However, the lower frequency words are better recognized. In addition, information that has been intentionally learned is generally better recalled than information that was acquired incidentally, but information that is learned unintentionally is sometimes better recognized. Indicating that memory effects are not mediated by a single straightforward system or process operating along a single continuum. These researchers required participants to study a series of sentences with key words embedded in the sentences.

At recall, the sentences were cued by phrases that were either a appropriate or b inappropriate to the particular attributes of the named object the piano. What is encoded in any particular encoding situation is selective, i. According to Tulving, what will be remembered later depends on the similarity between the memory test conditions and the original study conditions.

We saw an example of this when considering the experiments of Godden and Baddeley with divers tested on shore or underwater. For information to be optimally recalled, test cues need to target the particular aspects of the information that were originally encoded. In other words, remembering depends on the match Memory between what is encoded and what is cued.

So, to achieve the best recall, the type of processing involved when studying needs to be appropriately matched to the type of processing that will required at test. In the original Craik and Tulving studies, participants were encouraged during encoding to focus on the i physical, ii phonological e.

As we saw in Chapter 2, under typical testing conditions semantic processing during encoding led to the best level of recall during testing. But in a study conducted by Morris and colleagues, another condition was added in the test phase, whereby participants had to identify words that rhymed with the words presented earlier during encoding.

The Brain: A Very Short Introduction

At test, the best recall of rhyming words was observed in participants where rhyming i. Kennedy or the death of Diana, Princess of Wales, for example. We know no reason why gunpowder treason should ever be forgot. Friedrich Nietzsche Memory Recall the tripartite, logically necessary distinction between encoding, storage, and retrieval introduced in Chapter 1.

Forgetting may occur not because of problems in retaining information in storage, per se, but because similar memories become confused and interfere with each other when we try to retrieve them. There are two traditional views of forgetting. One view argues that memory simply fades or decays away, just as objects in the physical environment might fade or erode or tarnish over time.

This view represents a more passive conceptualization of forgetting and memory. The second view regards forgetting as a more active process. According to this perspective, there is no strong evidence for the passive fading of information in memory, but forgetting occurs because memory traces are disrupted, obscured or overlaid by other memories. In other words, forgetting occurs as a consequence of interference. Flashbulb memories and the reminiscence bump One interesting feature of memory is that people seem to be able to remember certain events very vividly for a long time, especially if they are particularly unusual and arousing.

The assassination of John F. Kennedy in , the death of Princess Diana in , and the destruction of the Word Trade Centre in New York in are very memorable events for people who were alive when these events occurred. Memory for such events appears to be very resistant to forgetting over time. Many people are able to remember where they were and who 63 Inaccuracies in memory More generally, our experiences do tend to interact in our memories and to run into one another, with the result that our memory for one experience is often interrelated to our memory of another. The more similar two experiences are, the greater the likelihood that they will interact in our memory.

In some cases, this interaction can be helpful in that new semantic learning can build on old learning for example, there is evidence that chess experts can remember chess positions better than novices — as considered later in this chapter. But when it is important to separate two episodes and render them quite distinct, interference can mean that we remember less accurately than we would otherwise have done. Memory they were with when they heard the news of one or all of these events. In highly arousing situations such as these, people often seem to remember well. This phenomenon may well be related to pressures operating during our evolutionary past.

In these situations, people tend to remember disproportionately more events from the period between their adolescence and early adulthood. What are lost in the mists of vanishing memory are the events of ten years ago. Nevertheless, both of these topics are the subjects of considerable interest in the memory literature. Organization and errors in memory The palest ink is better than the best memory.

Similar effects have been shown with expert bridge players when they attempt to recall bridge hands, or where electronics experts are asked to remember electronic circuits. In each case, it appears that the experts organize the material into a coherent and meaningful pattern. In the laboratory, researchers have compared memory for the learning of a relatively unstructured material with the recall of b material that had some structure imposed at 66 the time of learning.

For example, memory for a random list of words can be compared with memory for a list that has been segmented, for the purposes of presentation, into categories of, say, i vegetables or ii items of furniture at encoding. When people are asked to remember later the list that was organized during encoding, their performance is substantially better than when they heard the randomly organized list during the learning phase.

Therefore, meaningful organization of information during learning can sometimes lead to enhanced memory performance at test. However, as we will see shortly, other types of organization during learning can result in distortions in memory when people are tested later. There is evidence that chess experts can remember chess positions better than novices. This is related to apparently the ability of experts to perceive the chessboard as an organized whole, rather than as a collection of individual pieces The effects of previous knowledge Schemas — what we already know Memory As we saw in Chapter 1, in the s Bartlett asked English participants to read and then recall a Native American folk tale, The War of the Ghosts, which came from a culture that was very different from their own.

Bartlett proposed that we possess schemata or schemas , which he described as active organizations of past experiences. These schemas help us to make sense of familiar situations, guiding our expectations and providing a framework within which new information is processed. People seemingly have trouble understanding presented information if they cannot draw upon schemas for previously acquired knowledge. This point was nicely illustrated in a study conducted by Bransford and Johnson. These researchers gave participants a passage to remember, which began as follows: The procedure is actually quite simple.

First you arrange items into different groups. If you have to go somewhere else due to lack of facilities that is the next step; otherwise you are pretty well set. It is important not to overdo things. That is, it is better to do too few things at once than too many. With the title provided beforehand, the passage became more meaningful, and recall performance doubled. So it seems that providing a meaningful context improves memory. Bower, Winzenz, and colleagues provided another demonstration. They asked participants to learn sets of words that were presented either a randomly or b in a well-organized hierarchy.

These researchers found that presenting the words in meaningful hierarchies reduced the learning time to a quarter of that required for the same words when they were randomly positioned. Memory How does knowledge promote remembering? For example, Morris and colleagues showed that there was a very strong relationship between how much their participants knew about football and the number of new football scores they could remember after hearing them just once.

Participants were read a new set of football scores as they were being broadcast at the weekend. One set of football scores were the real scores, while another set of scores was simulated by constructing plausible pairs of teams and assigning goals with the same frequency as had occurred in an earlier week. Participants in the study were told whether the scores they heard were real or simulated. Only the real scores seemed to activate the knowledge and interest of the football experts. For real scores, level of memory recall was clearly related to football expertise — so more knowledgeable fans recalled more of the scores.

But for simulated scores where the scores were highly plausible but not the genuine results , it was found that expertise had relatively little effect on subsequent recall performance. How can knowledge lead to errors? Our previous knowledge is a very valuable asset, but it can also lead to errors. In one relevant study, Owens and colleagues gave their participants a description of the activities performed by a particular character. For example, one of the sketches was about a student named Nancy. She went to see the nurse who went through the usual procedures. Then Nancy stepped on the scale and the nurse recorded her weight.

The doctor entered the room and examined the results. These participants included between two and four times as many pieces of incorrect information when tested on their recall of the sketch. These types of errors were made in both recognition and recall tests. So, for example, a story about eating in a restaurant might refer to paying the bill at the beginning of the meal. When recalling the stories, participants tended to reorder their recall back to the schematic i.

This strategy is usually very adaptive, minimizing our need to remember new things that are very similar to things we already know. But sometimes there can be a blurring between what actually happened and what has been imagined or suggested. Memory Reality monitoring The issue of reality monitoring — i.

Johnson has argued that qualitative differences between memories are important for distinguishing external memories from internally generated ones. She contends that external memories i have stronger sensory attributes, ii are more detailed and complex, and iii are set in a coherent context of time and place. By contrast, Johnson argues that internally generated memories embody more traces of the reasoning and imagining processes that generated them.

Clear images and details were found to occur more often with correct reports of what had been presented on the videotape. Related to the concept of reality monitoring is source monitoring — i. As we shall see, errors in attributing memories can have important consequences — for example, during eyewitness testimony Mitchell and Johnson, Eyewitness testimony However, in a crime situation, we know that many factors work against an eyewitness, and can obscure or distort his or her memory: r Although enhanced arousal can facilitate memory as we have seen earlier , when a person is experiencing extreme stress, their attention can be narrowed for example, towards a potentially dangerous weapon and perception is often biased.

Generally speaking, people are very poor at answering this question, even when they use those particular coins almost every day. Some people might argue, though, that when we observe an unusual event such as a crime , we are in a much better position to remember this effectively than when we are trying to remember the mundane features of a coin. One particularly salient example of memory bias was experienced by Donald Thompson, who ironically, as we shall see had been very active in arguing for the unreliability of eyewitness evidence. Taken together with problems that can arise with eyewitness testimony, change blindness indicates how vulnerable we can be with respect to the inaccurate processing of some information in our immediate environment.

The misinformation effect The distortion of memory through the incorporation of new information has been an important research topic for researchers 75 Inaccuracies in memory On one occasion, Thompson took part in a television debate on the very topic of eye-witness testimony.

Some time later, the police arrested him, but declined to explain why. It was only after a woman picked him out of a line-up at the police station that he discovered he was to be charged with rape. It seemed that, coincidentally, the woman had been raped while this television program was being broadcast in the room in which her rape was committed.

The topic of discussion in the TV programme may also have been highly relevant. Memory concerned both with the practical implications for eyewitness testimony, and with theoretical accounts of the nature of memory. Despite what we know about the fallibilities of memory, considerable weight is typically still placed on eyewitness testimony by the legal profession, the police and the press.

Elizabeth Loftus and her colleagues have explored in depth the misinformation effect. This issue arises when misleading information is introduced indirectly. Later, the participants were questioned about the event. These participants tended to choose the road sign that had been mentioned in the misleading question, rather than the one they had actually seen.

However, the basis of the misinformation effect continues to be disputed by some researchers. This issue will be discussed further later in this chapter. False memories Related to the misinformation effect, but with more potentially serious consequences, are recovered and false memories. Substantial research has shown that, under certain circumstances, false memories can be created. Memory Afterwards they had to answer questions about the events. Memory Loftus concluded from these results that the memory representation of an event can be changed by the subsequent introduction of misleading information.

Half of the participants in each group received information that was consistent with what they had seen in the accident, and the other half of each group received misleading information. Twenty minutes later, all the participants were shown pairs of slides, where one of each pair of slides showed what they had actually seen and the other was slightly different.

The participants had to choose the most accurate slide for each pair. This complementary body of research indicates that, although people may remember corrections to earlier misinformation, they may nevertheless continue to rely on the discredited information as observed in laboratory investigations conducted by Lewandowsky and colleagues. The researchers found that those participants who had been asked the question earlier that had been consistent with what they had seen in the original slides were more likely to choose the correct slide when they were asked to choose the most accurate slide, twenty minutes later.

By contrast, those participants who had been asked a misleading question earlier were more likely to choose the wrong slide when they were asked to choose the most accurate slide, twenty minutes later. With reference to the different subcomponents of memory that were discussed in previous chapters, the focus here will be on the loss of memory in the so-called classical amnesic syndrome. The cortex is the outer layer of the brain, where a vine-like thicket of billions of nerve cells reverberates via electrical and chemical impulses to retain information.

The degree to which the hippocampus Memory impairment One of the most important structures of the brain involved in memory is the hippocampus, indicated by the cross hairs in the brain images, above 85 remains involved in retrieving these memories over longer time intervals remains — at the time of writing — contentious. Much research into memory has focused on what people do, say, feel, and imagine as a result of their previous experiences. In the amnesic syndrome, patients exhibit a Retrograde amnesia going backwards in time Anterograde amnesia proceeding forwards in time … … Time of brain injury or other form of memory insult By contrast, retrograde amnesia is a form of memory impairment in which someone is unable to remember information or events that were presented before the time of injury 86 severe anterograde amnesia and a degree of retrograde amnesia: anterograde amnesia refers to a loss of memory for information that occurred after the time of the brain injury that caused the memory loss, whereas retrograde amnesia refers to the loss of information occurring before the injury see Figure 5.

My room mate had come in [and] he had taken one of my small fencing foils off the wall and I guess he was making like Cyrano de Bergerac behind me. I just felt a tap on the back. I swung around. I took it right in the left nostril, went up and punctured the What follows is an excerpt from the interesting and revealing conversation that patient NA held with a psychologist, Wayne Wickelgren, who was introduced to NA in a room at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology MIT in the USA. Five minutes later, Wickelgren returned. NA apparently looked at Wickelgren as if he had never seen him before, and the two people were therefore reintroduced.

The following conversation then ensued: 87 Memory impairment cribriform area of my brain. Related to this point, his semantic memory is at least partially preserved see Chapter 2. In other words, he lacks the ability to put new information into long-term memory. This is one of the central characteristics of the amnesic syndrome. More generally, in people with the amnesic syndrome, intelligence, language, and immediate memory span are maintained. But long-term memory is severely impaired.

By contrast, the amnesic syndrome appears to have little effect on procedural or implicit memory such as remembering how to drive , and even 88 Declarative Semantic vs. Squire proposed a model that differentiates within long-term memory between declarative or explicit memory versus procedural or implicit memory, with only declarative memory being compromised in the amnesic syndrome The classical amnesic syndrome typically involves damage to the hippocampus and to closely connected brain regions such as the thalamus in the diencephalon.

It therefore appears that damage to the hippocampus and the thalamus can prevent new conscious memories from being formed. Moreover, when individuals with amnesia learn new skills, they appear to achieve this without awareness. Yet, each time he was given the task to complete, he denied having ever seen this puzzle before! This is a very important point when considering the way in which different aspects of memory fractionate or dissociate after brain injury, and may be useful when considering possible methods of rehabilitation for people with memory disorders.

It can also tell us some important information about the way in which memory is organized in the healthy or non-damaged brain. Patients with the amnesic syndrome are typically able to learn to perform a complicated task, called mirror drawing, attempted over several days — yet each time they are given the task to complete, they may well deny having ever undertaken the task before! Individuals with amnesia typically perform normally, or very close to normally, on a wide range of implicit or procedural memory tasks been famously suggested by Kenneth Craik that, for complex systems such as the brain, we may learn more about the functional relationships in these systems i when they cease to function properly rather than ii when everything is working smoothly.

But it is now apparent that different subtypes of amnesia have different characteristics, depending on the precise location of the brain damage. In future, we need to develop a more informed taxonomy of different memory-related brain disorders. That is, many parts of the brain are active when someone is remembering. This has been vividly illustrated by brain imaging studies conducted over the past several decades, implicating a host of brain regions that previously were not strongly associated with memory such as the prefrontal cortex, located just above and behind the eyes, in encoding and retrieval.

It is therefore challenging to seek to isolate neural activity that might be unique to remembering. This valid point notwithstanding, certain parts of the brain do seem to be important to memory, in particular. Testing amnesia Temporal lobe amnesic patients such as HM in Boston or SJ, whom we have studied in Perth, Australia have taught us a lot about the neurological basis of memory. In particular, it seems that important elements of long-term memory are served by the hippocampus, deep within the temporal lobe of the brain.

Patient HM received surgery for the treatment of intractable epilepsy in The surgeon removed the inner face of the temporal lobe in each hemisphere, including parts of the hippocampus, the amygdala, and the rhinal cortex. Since this time, HM has remembered almost nothing new, though he still seems to remember some events in his life from before the surgical procedure. His other cognitive skills e. Furthermore, as we saw previously, people with the amnesic syndrome are capable of learning new motor skills, like mirror drawing Figure 14 , and perceptual skills like completing pictures — although he does not remember doing so.

However, since this time, it has been recognized that HM and other temporal lobe amnesic patients such as SJ can learn new skills and perform implicit memory tasks, as we have previously noted. It therefore seems unlikely that 93 Memory impairment Here is an example of a typical memory testing interview conducted with patients like HM. Before testing begins, HM introduces himself and talks with the neuropsychologist for a few minutes, having not met him before. The neuropsychologist asks HM what he had for breakfast that day: he does not remember.

Systematic testing of memory then begins. The neuropsychologist removes a collection of photographs of faces from his briefcase. He shows some to HM, who studies them carefully.

3. What stays in the mind? Learning and Memory - Very Short Introductions

But a few minutes later, HM cannot identify which faces he has just seen and which ones he did not. His performance on this task is considerably lower than that of a comparison, control participant — who is of a similar age, gender, and background to HM, but who has not sustained brain damage. The neuropsychologist then shows HM an elementary line drawing and asks him if he can identify it. He is also able to repeat a string of six numbers immediately after hearing them.

The neuropsychologist leaves the room, and HM waits in the room, reading a magazine. Twenty minutes later, the neuropsychologist returns. HM clearly does not recognize the neuropsychologist: HM stands up, and politely introduces himself again. Amnesia has profound philosophical implications, given the degree to which our ongoing sense of personhood, self, and identity is intimately entwined with our memory.


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  • And at a practical level, memory loss is extremely debilitating given the range of everyday activities in which memory is important, and it can place great strain on carers. Some memory strategies have been found to be reliably effective for people with memory loss after brain injury, such as errorless learning techniques see Chapter 7. But memory is not like a muscle that can be improved by repetitive exercise. But this is a very rare occurrence. Therefore, it is advisable to assess other mental abilities such as perception, attention, and intelligence — as well as language and executive functions — in someone who presents with memory loss.

    This is typical of most commercially available psychometric tests. However, the assessment of memory provided by the WMS-III is not comprehensive, and other tests of memory and if possible other cognitive capacities should also be given when evaluating amnesia. These include assessment of remote and autobiographical memory. For example, there are instances of individuals entering a dissociative state when they seem to become partly or wholly separated from their memories.

    This is often caused by an event of a violent nature, such as physical or sexual abuse, or having committed or witnessed a murder. An example of a dissociative state is the fugue state, when someone loses track of their personal identity and the memories that went with it. Individuals experiencing a fugue state are usually unaware that anything is wrong, and will often adopt a new identity.

    The fugue only 97 Memory impairment In the fugue state, someone apparently loses track of their personal identity and the memories that went with it. This condition may be caused by a traumatic event such as an accident or crime. For example, in the case of the notorious Los Angeles Hillside Strangler in the late s, Kenneth Bianchi was charged with the rape and murder of several women, but despite strong evidence against him, he persistently denied his guilt and claimed that he knew nothing about the crimes.

    When removed from the hypnotic trance, Kenneth Bianchi could apparently remember nothing of the conversation between Steve and the hypnotist. However, the ruling went against Bianchi in this case — because the court refused to accept that he genuinely possessed two different personalities. Hypnosis is itself a controversial technique, in terms of whether it can truly induce a qualitatively different state of consciousness. In the context of Bianchi, hypnosis may have allowed the suggestion that another personality could exist — and Bianchi may have seized the 98 opportunity to confess via this conduit.

    Because of its dramatic nature, so-called multiple personality disorder has been the subject of intense media interest, and a number of popular books describing individual cases have appeared. Less controversially, in recent times this phenomenon has been referred to as manifesting lowered or reduced effort — a more objective and less emotive term than malingering. The manifestation of reduced effort may be mediated consciously e. This is especially the case as semantic knowledge increases and language becomes available.

    For example, there is evidence that increasing semantic knowledge enhances the way in which information in permanent memory can be accessed, and that the acquisition of language allows children to be able to encode materials more richly in terms of verbal labels — and use those labels as cues at retrieval. There is also evidence that the development of other cognitive skills can impact positively upon memory capacity; for example, the development of problem solving and hypothesis-testing skills may be relevant when trying to retrieve memories and when seeking to determine whether retrieved information is veridical.

    However, as children mature memories are retrieved faster after longer delays, and via a range of different retrieval cues. Studies of implicit memory or memory without awareness; see Chapter 2 indicate that this may be intact in children as young as three years of age for example, perceptual learning, verbal priming. Of note, this aspect of memory does not appear to show such a striking developmental improvement, perhaps related to this form of memory being mediated by evolutionarily longer established brain regions.

    By contrast, there seems to be a progressive development of meta-memory skills i. This is perhaps related to the relatively slow neural maturation of the frontal lobes of the brain through adolescence. As the name suggests, this is the part of the brain which occupies the front portion of the skull.

    This brain region appears to have developed disproportionately in humans relative to other mammalian species. We will discuss this brain region further, later in this chapter, in the context of ageing. I was held in by the strap fastened round me while my nurse bravely tried to stand between me and the thief. She received various scratches, and I can still see vaguely those on her face. Then a crowd gathered, a policeman with a short cloak and a white baton came up and the man took to his heels.

    I can still see the whole scene, and can even place it near the tube station. But the neural maturation of the brain and other biological factors are likely to be critical too. Memory the Salvation Army. She wanted to confess her past faults, and in particular to return the watch she had been given on this occasion.

    She had made up the whole story, faking the scratches. I, therefore, must have heard — as a child — the account of this story, which my parents believed, and projected it into the past in the form of a visual memory. As previously discussed, context shifts see Chapter 3 between the time of encoding and the time of retrieval may be especially relevant when adults are trying to retrieve events that were encoded during childhood. As we saw in Chapter 4, we are all vulnerable to distortions in our memory.

    Everyone experiences memory lapses, failure, and errors, but there may be a tendency in old people to attribute these automatically to the effect of ageing, rather than just to normal individual variability with ageing being but an incidental factor. This important point was captured several centuries ago by the famous scholar, raconteur, and wit Samuel Johnson when he wrote: There is a wicked inclination in most people to suppose an old man decayed in his intellects.

    If a young or middle-aged man, The seven ages of man Older children and adults may be able to remember early life events relatively well in general terms, but have problems specifying their origin because of the relative fragility in childhood of memory for context.

    For example, if we compare the memory of year-olds today with year-olds today, there is a whole range of different factors that could explain differences in memory performance between these two groups of individuals — apart from the fact that the year-olds are 50 years younger. These extraneous — or confounding — factors could distort the outcome of studies into the effect of ageing on memory if we were to contrast the memory capacity of current year-olds with the memory of current year-olds.

    Comparing the memory of current year-olds with the memory of current year-olds is an example of a cross-sectional experimental design. By contrast, in a longitudinal study the aim is to follow the same people across their lifespan from the age of 20 to 70, to see what changes in memory occur within the same individuals as people age. There are some advantages to this longitudinal method, in that we are comparing memory changes occurring in the same people. However, it has been noted that there is a tendency for a disproportionately large number of high-functioning people — that is, individuals with better preserved memory and other cognitive functions — to remain in a longitudinal study.

    These people are sometimes called super Longitudinal study Individuals a In other words, what seems to happen in some longitudinal studies is that the people who are receiving positive feedback related to their relatively well preserved functional capacity from participation in a longitudinal study may continue to participate — whereas people who are struggling drop out.

    In summary, both cross-sectional and longitudinal study designs have relative strengths and weaknesses. In particular, it is noteworthy The seven ages of man In a longitudinal study, we would follow the same people across their lifespan from the age of 20 to 70; whereas comparing the memory of current year-olds with the memory of current year-olds represents an example of a cross-sectional experimental design. Memory Short-term memory seems to remain quite well preserved in older individuals, although tasks with more of a working memory element are often adversely affected by ageing please refer back to Chapter 2 for this distinction.

    Performance on explicit long-term memory i. Recognition does seem to change qualitatively, though — by apparently becoming more familiarity based. So when recognition demands contextual memory i. This may mean that older people similar to children; see earlier in this chapter are more susceptible to suggestion and bias in their memory. Implicit memory i. For example, an intriguing study of typing supporting this conclusion was conducted by Hill , and involved learning to type a passage of text aged 30 and then testing himself again aged 55 and 80!

    So not only does implicit memory mature relatively early in children, but it seems to hold up well in old age. In fact, this capacity seems to improve throughout life. There is also evidence that age-related loss of memory capacity may be linked to a reduction in cognitive processing speed as we get older. As mentioned earlier in this chapter, this portion of the brain appears to have developed disproportionately in humans relative to other species.

    As we noted, in children the emergence of meta-memory i. Prospective memory — or remembering to do something in the future — is another aspect of memory that has been linked to frontal brain functions; and, indeed, there is evidence that this capacity is adversely affected by ageing. The bottom line is that the frontal lobes seem to mature relatively late in life but start to deteriorate relatively early. Consistent with this, it has been suggested that the effects of frontal lobe dysfunction on memory can be detected in children and also in older people.

    For example, recent evidence has indicated that factors such as exercise and a healthy diet especially diets low in saturated fats and high in antioxidants are not only healthy for the body, but they may well also help the brain to function well into old age. With respect to age-related clinical disorders, memory dysfunction is typically an early hallmark of dementia. Episodic memory impairment can occur in relative isolation in the early stages of the illness.

    But later on in dementia, many other cognitive capacities can be affected — such as language, perception, and executive functions. The parts of the brain subserving episodic memory are affected early in this illness progression of the brain damage in this devastating illness. Another form of neurodegenerative illness has been termed semantic dementia. At the moment, drug treatments that are available for dementia are symptomatic, treating the effects of the disease such as reduced neurotransmission in the brain rather than the fundamental causes of the illness.

    This may change in the future, through techniques such as stem cell therapies or brain prostheses. In addition, cognitive rehabilitation techniques are effective in maximizing available memory capacity in people with neurodegenerative illness — helping to enhance self esteem and emotional status as well as functional capabilities see Chapter 7.

    We also consider mnemonists in this chapter i. Can you improve your memory? There have already been attempts to conduct both of these procedures in laboratory animals. However, these proposed techniques remain controversial. So at present, it seems that we can really Improving memory There is some evidence that some agents such as stimulants, e.

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    However, these stimulant effects are only reliably observed when we are tired or our cognitive system is otherwise compromised. And if they make us too aroused, these stimulants may have counter-productive consequences. Such agents typically appear to act through enhancing chemical transmission or communication between brain cells.

    But, again, these substances are really only consistently helpful for some people with impaired memory due, for example, to brain damage or illness such as dementia. How do we do this? When Ebbinghaus was learning his nonsense syllables, he found that there was a direct relationship between the number of learning trials and the amount of information retained see Chapter 1. Ebbinghaus concluded that the amount learned was proportional to the time spent learning: other things being equal, if you doubled the amount of time spent learning, you would double the amount of information stored.

    This became known as the total time hypothesis, which is the basic relationship underlying the whole of the human learning literature. Yet, we have already seen that different types of memory encoding produce differential levels of performance Chapter 2. So cramming for an examination cannot replace solid, sustained revision. The main aim is to test each item at the longest interval at which it can be reliably reproduced. This seems to work quite effectively as a learning technique.

    If you remember something for yourself such as recalling the spelling of a word , this tends to strengthen the memory more effectively. Focusing attention on what you are learning is an effective approach. Victorian educators placed a lot of emphasis on repetition and rote learning; but repetition of information does not ensure that attention is being paid to the material as we have r seen previously in this book, nothing is likely to get into long-term memory unless you attend to it.

    Coding information both verbally and visually i. Please see Further reading on page The use of other types of r mnemonic technique can also be very effective see later in this chapter. The way in which we process information is crucial. Building on this phenomenon, a general rule is that it often helps to relate new material to yourself and to your own circumstances as richly and elaborately as possible in the time available.

    And seeking to understand information that you are studying, rather than passively learning it, typically improves memory. It seems that the processing of meaning typically links in more of our general knowledge, thereby semantically coding information more richly and improving subsequent memory performance. The same principle applies to many walks of life; for example, the sales manager may be able to assimilate information about new products, building on his or her knowledge of products that have been sold in the marketplace over the past several decades.

    In summary, improving memory performance requires application, initiative, and persistence, but there are also some reliable techniques that can help us. Furthermore, what we remember depends, in part, on how we were thinking, feeling, and acting at the time of the original experience please refer to the state-dependent memory effects discussed in Chapter 3. This knowledge can allow us to develop strategies that help us modify what we remember. The mere repetition of information, with no additional thought about meaning or associations, can help us to retain information for a few seconds, but it is generally a very poor method of learning for the longer term see Chapter 2.

    In contrast to maintenance rehearsal, some participants in the Craik and Watkins study used elaborative rehearsal. Rather than passively repeating information in an effort to maintain its availability, in elaborative rehearsal the meaning of the information is considered by participants and this meaning is elaborated.

    Although both types of rehearsal can keep information available for a short time, it was found that recall after a delay is much better when the information has been rehearsed elaboratively than when it has merely been rehearsed in a maintenance fashion. This method Improving memory For example, Craik and Watkins asked participants to learn lists of words.

    In one condition, participants were encouraged to repeat the last few words in the list over and over again for some time before recall. Memory testing occurred immediately after the list had been presented. Participants recalled the repeated words well in the immediate test, but at the end of the experiment all of the different lists that had been presented were tested again. The repetition was described as maintenance rehearsal.

    This kind of rehearsal apparently maintained information in memory temporarily, but did not improve longer-term memory. Memory is sometimes called expanding rehearsal or spaced retrieval. This approach may be regarded as a technique for maximizing learning, with mental effort applied in an optimal manner. The fundamental principles underlying spaced retrieval are as follows. By successfully recalling the information correctly a short while after studying it, we are more likely to recall it again later — so we can allow a somewhat longer delay before our next successful retrieval effort.

    With each successful effort, the delay between each retrieval attempt can increase, and yet still lead to further successes. The effectiveness of an expanding schedule for retrieval practice was demonstrated by Landauer and Bjork. Expanding retrieval practice is an excellent strategy for students. It is relatively undemanding in terms of the effort and creativity required, and yet it can be applied to virtually any material.

    They compared the performance of participants who had originally learned and then relearned Spanish vocabulary by testing them eight years after the teaching session. One group had originally learned and relearned the vocabulary with an interval between learning and relearning of 30 days, whereas the other group had learned and relearned the material on the same day.

    Ebbinghaus argued that — if he was to discover the fundamental principles of memory — then he would need to study the learning of simple, systematically constructed materials. But Improving memory A related concept concerns the advantages of spaced study. It may be natural to plunge intensively into trying to learn new information, but this strategy has been shown repeatedly to be misguided. In fact, two spaced presentations of material to be learned are often twice as effective as two concentrated, unspaced presentations. Memory As we saw in Chapter 1, Ebbinghaus created syllables by stringing together a consonant sound, a vowel sound, and a consonant sound.

    Some of these consonant-vowel-consonant trigrams comprised short words or meaningful parts of words, but most of these trigrams were relatively meaningless syllables. Ebbinghaus made lists of these syllables and learned them in order — often requiring many trials to learn them perfectly. In contrast to his relatively slow learning of these syllables, his acquisition of more meaningful materials such as poetry was considerably faster. A further demonstration of the importance of meaning for the recall of very different material was provided by some relatively recent research conducted by Bower and colleagues into memory for droodles i.

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    Some participants were given a meaning for each droodle e. Mnemonics A mnemonic is a way of organizing information to make it easier to remember — typically by using codes, visual imagery, or rhymes sometimes in combination. The method of loci The oldest mnemonic method is the method of loci, taught from Classical times until the present day. The technique involves knowing a series of places or loci that are familiar yet Improving memory Perhaps the oldest example of an external memory aid is the knot in the handkerchief.

    The subsequent recall of this information then involves mentally revisiting the places and re-experiencing each of the images that were created earlier. Research has shown the technique to be highly effective, but its use can be limited by the relative unavailability of suitable locations and materials with which one can create images. The origin of the technique is reputedly as follows. In about BC, the Greek poet Simonides attended a celebration. Shortly after delivering a eulogy there, he was called away. Many of the bodies from the tragedy were, allegedly, unrecognizable — making it impossible for relatives to identify the people in order to give them an appropriate burial.

    But Simonides found that he could quite easily remember where most of the guests had been seated at the time he left the banqueting hall, which made it much easier to identify the relevant individuals. Based on this experience, Simonides was said to have devised a general mnemonic technique. The method involved visualizing a room or building in great detail, and then imagining various to-be-remembered objects or pieces of information placed in particular locations. This system of memorizing became popular with Classical orators like Cicero, who had to remember very long sequences of text for their orations.

    Indeed, it is still used today for example, by people giving speeches at weddings — where it is often important to remember a sequence of The method involves visualizing a room or building in great detail, and then imagining various to-be-remembered objects or pieces of information placed in particular locations within that building or room items in a particular order. Using pegwords, you link this with the image associated with number 1, bun.

    So you might create a visual image of a bun sitting on top of a birthday card. As with the method of loci, this technique can be used for a wide range of materials that need to be remembered — one simply needs to link each item in the sequence to each of the pegwords, by making a particularly evocative and memorable association. Indeed, they form the basis of most professional memory improvement techniques. A number of novel proposals are made in the course of these discussions, one of which is that creative human thought depends upon a prior kind of creativity of action.

    Written with unusual clarity and directness, and surveying an extensive range of research in cognitive science, this book will be essential reading for anyone with an interest in the nature and organization of the mind. Neuromania: On the limits of brain science. Paolo Legrenzi. Neuroeconomics, neuromarketing, neuroaesthetics, and neurotheology are just a few of the novel disciplines that have been inspired by a combination of ancient knowledge together with recent discoveries about how the human brain works.

    The mass media are full of news items featuring colour photos of the brain, that show us the precise location in which a certain thought or emotion, or even love occurs, hence leading us to believe that we can directly observe, with no mediation, the brain at work. But is this really so? Even throughout the developed world, the general public has been seduced into believing that any study, research article, or news report, accompanied by a brain image or two is more reliable and more scientific, than one featuring more mundane illustrations.

    This fascinating, accessible, and thought provoking new book questions our obsession with brain imaging. Written by two highly experienced psychologists, it discusses some of the familiar ideas usually associated wtih mind-body, brain-psyche, and nature-culture relationships, showing how the biased and unquestioning use of brain imaging technology could have significant cultural effects for all of us.

    Carrie Figdor. Psychological terms are widely used to describe the biological world: plants, insects, bacteria colonies, even single cells are described as making decisions, anticipating rewards, and communicating with language. Carrie Figdor presents a comprehensive critical assessment of the interpretation of psychological terms across biological domains. She argues that we interpret these descriptions as literal claims about the capacities of such beings, and she argues against the anthropocentric attitude which takes human cognition as the standard for full-blooded capacities, to which nonhuman capacities are compared and found wanting.

    She offers an alternative view of what is required for a naturalistic explanation of the mind, and promotes finding a non-anthropocentric framework for determining distinctions in moral status. This is the first book to give a comprehensive theory of the interpretation of mental language throughout biology and to emphasize the role of mathematical modeling in the spread and revision of concepts. Book 3. We now know that the world is governed by physics. We now understand the way biology nestles comfortably within that. The issue is how will the mind do that as well.

    Newell describes what, for him, is the pivotal question of scientific inquiry, and Anderson gives an answer that is emerging from the study of brain and behavior.

    Memory A Very Short Introduction

    Humans share the same basic cognitive architecture with all primates, but they have evolved abilities to exercise abstract control over cognition and process more complex relational patterns. The human cognitive architecture consists of a set of largely independent modules associated with different brain regions. In this book, Anderson discusses in detail how these various modules can combine to produce behaviors as varied as driving a car and solving an algebraic equation, but focuses principally on two of the modules: the declarative and procedural. The declarative module involves a memory system that, moment by moment, attempts to give each person the most appropriate possible window into his or her past.

    The procedural module involves a central system that strives to develop a set of productions that will enable the most adaptive response from any state of the modules. Newell argued that the answer to his question must take the form of a cognitive architecture, and Anderson organizes his answer around the ACT-R architecture, but broadens it by bringing in research from all areas of cognitive science, including how recent work in brain imaging maps onto the cognitive architecture.

    The Brain and the Meaning of Life. Paul Thagard. Why is life worth living? What makes actions right or wrong? What is reality and how do we know it? The Brain and the Meaning of Life draws on research in philosophy, psychology, and neuroscience to answer some of the most pressing questions about life's nature and value. Paul Thagard argues that evidence requires the abandonment of many traditional ideas about the soul, free will, and immortality, and shows how brain science matters for fundamental issues about reality, morality, and the meaning of life.

    The ongoing Brain Revolution reveals how love, work, and play provide good reasons for living. Similar ebooks. Charles G. Essays on great figures and important issues, advances and blind alleys—from trepanation to the discovery of grandmother cells—in the history of brain sciences. Neuromechanical Modeling of Posture and Locomotion.

    Boris I. Neuromechanics is a new, quickly growing field of neuroscience research that merges neurophysiology, biomechanics and motor control and aims at understanding living systems and their elements through interactions between their neural and mechanical dynamic properties. Although research in Neuromechanics is not limited by computational approaches, neuromechanical modeling is a powerful tool that allows for integration of massive knowledge gained in the past several decades in organization of motion related brain and spinal cord activity, various body sensors and reflex pathways, muscle mechanical and physiological properties and detailed quantitative morphology of musculoskeletal systems.

    Recent work in neuromechanical modeling has demonstrated advantages of such an integrative approach and led to discoveries of new emergent properties of neuromechanical systems. Neuromechanical Modeling of Posture and Locomotion will cover a wide range of topics from theoretical studies linking the organization of reflex pathways and central pattern generating circuits with morphology and mechanics of the musculoskeletal system Burkholder; Nichols; Shevtsova et al. Furthermore, uniquely diverse modeling approaches will be presented in the book including a theoretical dynamic analysis of locomotor phase transitions Spardy and Rubin , a hybrid computational modeling that allows for in vivo interactions between parts of a living organism and a computer model Edwards et al.

    Susan Blackmore. Consciousness, 'the last great mystery for science', remains a hot topic. How can a physical brain create our experience of the world? What creates our identity? Do we really have free will? Could consciousness itself be an illusion? Exciting new developments in brain science are continuing the debates on these issues, and the field has now expanded to include biologists, neuroscientists, psychologists, and philosophers. This controversial book clarifies the potentially confusing arguments, and the major theories, whilst also outlining the amazing pace of discoveries in neuroscience.

    Covering areas such as the construction of self in the brain, mechanisms of attention, the neural correlates of consciousness, and the physiology of altered states of consciousness, Susan Blackmore highlights our latest findings.

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    Michael O'Shea. How does the brain work? How different is a human brain from other creatures' brains? Is the human brain still evolving? In this fascinating book, Michael O'Shea provides a non-technical introduction to the main issues and findings in current brain research, and gives a sense of how neuroscience addresses questions about the relationship between the brain and the mind. Chapters tackle subjects such as brain processes, perception, memory, motor control and the causes of 'altered mental states'.