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the retention of information or experience over time


the process by which information gets into memory storage

selective attention

focusing on a specific aspect of experience while ignoring others

divided attention

attending to several things simultaneously

levels of processing

a continuum from shallow to intermediate to deep, with deeper processing producing better memory


refers to the number of different connections that are made around a stimulus at any given level of memory encoding

self-reference (or self-referent encoding)

the best form of elaboration that involves typing new information to yourself or thing that are relevant to you.


how information is retained over time and how it is represented in memory

sensory memory

holds information from the world in its original sensory form for only an instant

echoic memory

auditory sensory memory, which is retained for up to several seconds

iconic memory

visual sensory memory, which is retained only for about ¼ of a second

short-term memory

a limited-capacity memory system in which information is usually retained for only as long as 30 seconds unless we use strategies to retain it longer


grouping or "packing" information that exceeds the 7 ± 2 memory span into higher-order units that can be remembered as single units


the conscious repetition of information

working memory

a three-part system that allows us to hold information temporarily as we perform cognitive tasks

phonological loop

the part to working memory that is specialized to briefly store speech-based information about the sounds of language

visuospatial working memory

the part of working memory that stores visual and spatial information, including visual imagery

central executive

the part of working memory that integrates information not only from the phonological loop and visuospatial working memory but also from long-term memory

long-term memory

a relatively permanent type of memory that stores huge amounts of information for a long time

explicit memory (or declarative memory)

the conscious recollection of information, such as specific facts and events and, at least in humans, information that can be verbally communicated

episodic memory

a type of explicit memory that involves the retention of information about the where, when, and what of life's happenings

semantic memory

a type of explicit memory that involves a person's knowledge about the world

implicit memory (or nondeclarative memory)

memory in which behavior is affected by prior experience without a conscious recollection of that experience

procedural memory

a type of implicit memory process that involves memory for skills

classical conditioning

a type of implicit memory that involves the automatic learning of associations between stimuli, so that one comes to evoke the same response as the other


a type of implicit memory that involves the activation of information that people already have in storage to help them remember new information better and faster


a preexisting mental concept or framework that helps people to organize and interpret information


a preexisting mental concept or framework for an event

connectionism (or parallel distributed processing PDP)

the theory that memory is stored throughout the brain in connections among neurons, several of which may work together to process a single memory

long-term potentiation

the concept that states that if two neurons are activated at the same time, the connection between them—and thus the memory—may be strengthened


when information that was retained in memory comes out of storage

serial position effect

the tendency to recall the items at the beginning and end of a list more readily than those in the middle

retrieval cue

any stimulus that can be used to pull information out of storage


a memory task in which the individual has to retrieve previously learned information, as on essay tests


a memory task in which the individual only has to identify learned items, as on multiple-choice tests

encoding specificity principle

the concept that states that information present at the time of encoding or learning tends to be effective as a retrieval cue

context dependent memory

people remember better when they attempt to recall information in the same context in which they learned it

flashbulb memory

the memory of emotionally significant events that people often recall with more accuracy and vivid imagery than everyday events


a defense mechanism by which a person is so traumatized by an event that he or she forgets it and then forgets the act of forgetting

encoding failure

a type of forgetting that occurs when the information was never entered into long-term memory


people forget not because memories are lost from storage but because other information gets in the way of what they want to remember

decay theory

when we learn something new, a neurochemical memory trace forms, but over time this trace disintegrates

tip of the tongue phenomenon (TOT)

a type of "effortful retrieval" that occurs when we are confident that we know something but cannot quite pull it out of memory

retrospective memory

remembering the past

prospective memory

remembering information about doing something in the future

misinformation effect

information presented after the memory is formed that can distort later recall of an event

source amnesia

attributing information to the wrong source

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