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Forgetting. Basic model of memory CUE TARGET We’ve talked about forgetting (failure to retrieve) occurring if you don’t have the right cues at retrieval.

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Presentation on theme: "Forgetting. Basic model of memory CUE TARGET We’ve talked about forgetting (failure to retrieve) occurring if you don’t have the right cues at retrieval."— Presentation transcript:

1 Forgetting

2 Basic model of memory CUE TARGET We’ve talked about forgetting (failure to retrieve) occurring if you don’t have the right cues at retrieval. The “right” cues are the ones that make you think of the material the same way that you did at encoding.

3 What’s the highway to Richmond? I-64 This cue doesn’t match the way you thought about the highway at encoding What’s the highway to Richmond? I-64 It’s also possible, though, that the cue is just fine, and it’s the connection that gets lost. Also possible that it’s the memory itself that becomes degraded or lost What’s the highway to Richmond? I-64

4 What’s the highway to Richmond? I-64 What’s the highway to Richmond? I-64 Cue Bias Decay Occlusion Unlearning Repression Selective retrieval

5 Cue bias—you can’t get the cues back Usually thought to be due to aging May happen due to extreme context effects— the world is a different place and can’t be the same

6 Cue bias—childhood amnesia What’s your earliest childhood memory?

7 Cue bias study (Simcock & Hayne, 2002) Children (2-3) are shown “the incredible toy shrinking machine.” Their vocabulary is also measured. One year later their memory for the machine is tested, and they describe it only using words that were in their vocabulary a year ago. Possible that cue bias is the reason for childhood amnesia—you can’t access pre- verbal memories because you experienced them differently

8 What’s the highway to Richmond? I-64 Decay—loss is spontaneous Occlusion—loss is due to new learning; can only retrieve new memory Unlearning—loss is due to new learning Repression—loss is an active, unconscious process. What’s the highway to Richmond? 29I-64 What’s the highway to Richmond? 29I-64 What’s the highway to Richmond? 29

9 Decay--orderliness of forgetting Woodworth & Schlossberg, 1952 If you put this on a logarithmic scale....

10 The orderly, logarithmic rate of forgetting indicated to people that decay was responsible for forgetting.

11 Problems with decay Time alone doesn’t cause anything; it’s processes occurring in time that makes things happen Theory is difficult to test.

12 Ideal experiment to test decay EncodingTest EncodingTest Time Memory should decay here Bad memory due to decay

13 What actually happens EncodingTest EncodingTest Time People think; opportunity for interference Test Sleep Encoding Memory equal due to decay

14 If decay is responsible for forgetting then what you do during the interval shouldn’t matter—the rate of forgetting will be the same. Jenkins & Dallenbach, 1924 What you do during the delay DOES matter.

15 Occlusion An old response that is already in memory competes with a new response you’re trying to learn. Hugo Munsterberg tried putting his pocket watch in a different pocket than he was used to, to see how often he would reach in the wrong pocket. Highway to Richmond? 29I-64

16 Tip of the tongue Someone who hates womenMisogynist Navigational instrument for measuring the angular elevation of the sun above the horizon Sextant Long, narrow flat-bottomed boat used in the canals of venice. Gondola

17 Occlusion It sounds good, but probably doesn’t account for that much forgetting.

18 Unlearning Learning new stuff causes unlearning of old stuff. How to test? What’s your phone number? 555-1111

19 Barnes & Underwood Learn list of paired associates Asked to produce both associates, and give lots of time; therefore minimize occlusion Learn list of repairings of associates (varied how much practice)

20 Results So they do get evidence for unlearning, but... 3 4 5 6 7 8 Mean Correct Responses 0510152025 Trials on Second List List 2 List 1

21 The unlearning account; change in association. TER FUNNY TER FUNNYTIRED TER FUNNYTIRED TER FUNNYTIRED

22 How do you know that it’s really unlearning, i.e., the association that’s getting weaker? Maybe it’s just overwhelmed by the strength of the new associate.


24 “ TER -TIRED” “TER-FUNNY” Original learning is intact--no unlearning has taken place--but it’s hard to “hear” because the new learning is so robust.

25 Volume vs. Occlusion Note that this is NOT occlusion; it’s about how you interpret what you retrieve, NOT your ability to retrieve the right associate.

26 Repression Active forgetting of traumatic material Very difficult to prove, but probably does happen on occasion Much more frequent that traumatic events lead to good memory.

27 Common lore Repression is very effective—but the memory can be recovered & highly accurate (i.e., goes from 0% to 100%). Repressed memories may be recovered through hypnosis, or by imaging yourself as a child again, etc. Danger: hypnosis & “guided imagery” can plant memories

28 Evidence Piaget’s kidnapping Loftus et al. (1996) “lost in a store” study. “Anal probe” study Conclusion: repression is poorly understood, probably possible, but rare. Also likely that false repressed memories can be planted.

29 Selective Retrieval Highway to Richmond? I-64 Selective retrieval This idea is that retrieving some stuff actually makes the retrieval of related stuff get harder, and it does so because it affects the representation, not the association.

30 The idea is that cues are often associated not just with one memory, but with many; you need to suppress these other memories in order to retrieve only the one that you want.

31 An example: retrieval induced forgetting Study Fruit-orange Fruit-banana Drink-lemonade Practice Retrieval Fruit-or Test Fruit-or Fruit-ba Drink-le Good Bad, relative to Drink-lemonade

32 Retrieval induced forgetting: is it selective retrieval? Fruit Banana But it could also be Fruit BananaOrange

33 BUT, selective retrieval makes a unique prediction... Fruit Banana If it’s the representation that’s inhibited, it should be inhibited even when accessed another way. Yellow

34 Anderson & Spellman Study categories and examples of categories, e.g., RED-BLOOD. If you study this, then the other examples of the category RED should be harder to learn.

35 “RED” Other red things are dampened so you can retrieve blood.

36 “RED” If selective retrieval takes place, it will be harder to learn “FOOD-STRAWBERRY” after learning “RED- BLOOD” It will be hard to learn “FOOD- STRAWBERRY” because STRAWBERRY has been inhibited as RED-BLOOD was studied. “FOOD”

37 “RED” It’s should not be the case that FOOD-STRAWBERRY is hard to learn simply because all associates are now hard to learn. To test that, compare learning FOOD-STRAWBERRY to other subjects who learn FOOD-CRACKER. “FOOD”

38 Study “RED- BLOOD” Study “FOOD- STRAWBERRY” Study “RED- BLOOD” Study “FOOD- CRACKER” 22% correct 38% correct Inhibition due to selective retrieval does take place. BUT it could be that this effect we’ve described is relatively temporary; we don’t know that yet.

39 Summary Most of the types of forgetting we’ve talked about seem somewhat temporary. It’s doesn’t sound like permanent loss; it sounds like temporary loss. Does this mean that all learning is permanent? Forgetting occurs only because other learning is interfering with access to the learning we want to access?

40 Does this mean that all learning is permanent? Before we take up this issue, you should realize that this proposition is impossible to disprove.

41 All learning is permanent Spontaneous recovery Hypnosis Wilder Penfield experiments.

42 Spontaneous recovery 1. Often no way to verify 2. Even if true, the fact that some memories are lost for a long time, yet are recoverable does not mean that all memories that are lost are recoverable. Examples...?

43 Hypnosis Hypnosis is perfectly real, and cool things can be done with it. It does nothing to help memory. It increases confidence in memory, but not accuracy of memory.

44 Results from a hypnosis study

45 Wilder Penfield studies Direct brain stimulation: usual report is full- blown recovery of forgotten memories.

46 What’s not reported: 1) happened rarely: perhaps 7-8% 2) no way to assess accuracy 3) subjects saw themselves in memory, home-movie style, and reported that they were “dream-like”

47 In sum... It’s impossible to disprove that everything that ever happened to you is recorded, but most memory researchers don’t believe this is the case.

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