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flashbulb memory

clear memory of an emotionally significant moment or event


processing of information into the memory system- for example, extracting meaning


retention of encoded information over time


process of getting information out of memory storage

sensory memory

the immediate, very brief recording of sensory information in the memory system

short-term memory

activated memory that holds a few items briefly, such as the seven digits of a phone number while dialing

long-term memory

relatively permanant and limitedless storehouse of the memory system

working memory

newer understanding of short-term memory that involves conscious, active processing of incoming auditory and visual-spatial information

automatic processing

unconscious encoding of incidental information, such as space, time, and frequence

effortful processing

encoding that requires attention conscious effort


conscious repetition of information, either to maintain it in consciousness or to encode it for storage

spacing effect

tendency for distributed study or practice to yield better long-term retention than is achieved through massed study or practice

serial position effect

our tendency to recall best the last and first items in a list

visual encoding

encoding of picture images

acoustic encoding

encoding of sound, especially the sound of words

semantic encoding

encoding of meaning, including the meaning of words


mental pictures; powerful aid to effortful processing


memory aids; like vivid imagery


organizing items into familiar, manageable units; often occurs automatically

iconic memory

momentary sensory memory of visual stimuli

echoic memory

momentary sensory memory of auditory stimuli; sounds can be recalled within 3 or 4 seconds

long-term potentiation (LTP)

increase in synapse's firing potential after brief, rapid stimulation


loss of memory

implicit memory

retention independent of conscious recollection

explicit memory

memory of facts and experiences that one can consciously know and "declare"


neural center that is located in limbic system and helps process explicit memories for storage


measure of memory in which the person must retrieve information learned earlier


measure of memory in which the person need only identify items previously learned


memory measure that assesses the amount of time saved when learning material for a second time


activation, often unconsciously, of particular associations in memory

deja vu

that eerie sense that "I've experienced this before"

mood-congruent memory

tendency to recall experiences that are consistent with one's current good or bad mood

proactive interference

disruptive effect of prior learning on the recall of new information

retroactive interference

disruptive effect of new learning on the recall of old information


in psychoanalytic theory, the basic defense mechanism that banishes from consciousness anxiety-arousing thoughts, feelings, and memories

misinformation effect

incorporating misleading information into one's memory of an event

source amnesia

attributing to the wrong source an event we have experienced, heard about, read about, or imagined

parallel processing

the processing of many aspects of a problem simultaneously; the brain's natural mode of information processing for many functions, doing many things at once

maintenance rehearsal

The process of repeatedly verbalizing or thinking about a piece of information.

elaborative rehearsal

A memory technique that involves thinking about the meaning of the term to be remembered, as opposed to simply repeating the word to yourself over and over.

primacy effect

This is the tendency for the first items presented in a series to be remembered better or more easily, or for them to be more influential than those presented later in the series.

declarative memory

It refers to memories which can be consciously recalled such as facts and events.

procedural memory

A type of long-term memory of how to perform different actions and skills. Essentially, it is the memory of how to do certain things.

episodic memory

A category of long-term memory that involves the recollection of specific events, situations and experiences.

state dependent memory

Learning that takes place in one situation or "state" is generally better remembered later in a similar situation or state.

decay theory

The act of forgetting something as the memory fades with time

Herman Ebbinghaus

He was a German psychologist who pioneered the experimental study of memory, and is known for his discovery of the forgetting curve and the spacing effect. He was also the first person to describe the learning curve.

Elizabeth Loftus

She is an American psychologist and expert on human memory. She has conducted extensive research on the misinformation effect and the nature of false memories.


the mental capacity or faculty of retaining and reviving facts, events, impressions, etc., or of recalling or recognizing previous experiences.

anterograde amnesia

inability to encode new memories from our experiences

decay theory

The idea that forgetting occurs because memory traces fade with time.

declarative memory

The part of long-term memory where factual information is stored, such as mathematical formulas, vocabulary, and life events.

elaborative rehearsal

a memorization method that involves thinking about how new information relates to information already stored in long-term memory

encoding specificity principle

The principle that when the conditions of information retrieval are similar to the conditions of information encoding, retrieval is more likely to be successful.

episodic memory

A category of long-term memory that involves the recollection of specific events, situations and experiences.

maintenance rehearsal

Repeating information over and over to keep it active in short-term memory

primacy effect

The tendency to show greater memory for information that comes first in a sequence.

procedural memory

Category of long-term memory that includes memories of different skills, operations, and actions.

retrograde amnesia

loss of memory for events that occurred before the onset of amnesia; eg a soldier's forgetting events immediately before a shell burst nearby, injuring him

semantic memory

a subdivision of declarative memory that stores general knowledge, including the meanings of words and concepts

state dependent memory

Enhanced ability to retrieve information when you are in the same physical and emotional state you were in when you encoded the information


all the mental activities associated with thinking, knowing, remembering, and communicating.


a mental grouping of similar objects, events, ideas, or people


a standard or typical example


a precise rule (or set of rules) specifying how to solve some problem


a commonsense rule (or set of rules) intended to increase the probability of solving some problem


A cognitive form of learning involving the mental rearragnment or restructuring of the elements in a problem to achieve an understanding or the problem and arrive at a solution

confirmation bias

a tendency to search for information that confirms one's preconceptions


the inability to see a problem from a new perspective, by employing a different mental set

mental set

a tendency to approach a problem in a particular way, often a way that has been successful in the past

functional fixedness

the tendency to think of things only in terms of their usual functions; an impediment to problem solving

representative heuristic

judging the likelihood of things in terms of how well they seem to represent, or match, particular prototypes; may lead one to ignore other relevent information

availability heuristic

estimating the likelihood of events based on their availability in memory; if instances come readily to mind, we presume such events are common


total certainty or greater certainty than circumstances warrant

belief perseverance

clinging to one's initial conceptions after the basis on which they were formed has been discredited


instinctive knowing (without the use of rational processes)


formulation of the plans and important details


the mental faculty or power of vocal communication


(linguistics) one of a small set of speech sounds that are distinguished by the speakers of a particular language


minimal meaningful language unit


studies of the formation of basic linguistic units


the study of language meaning


the grammatical arrangement of words in sentences

one-word stage

the stage in speech development, from about age 1 to 2, during which a child speaks mostly in single words

two-word stage

beginning about age 2, the stage in speech development during which a child speaks mostly two-word statements

telegraphic speech

early speech stage in which a child speaks like a telegram--'go car'--using mostly nouns and verbs and omitting 'auxiliary' words

linguistic determinism

Whorf's hypothesis that language determines the way we think

Noam Chomsky

United States linguist whose theory of generative grammar redefined the field of linguistics (born 1928)

B.F Skinner

pioneer of operant conditioning who believed that language development is determined by our past history of rewards and punishments

Benjamin Whorf

Concept of "liguistic determinism" or how language impacts thought


the ability to produce novel and valuable ideas


our awareness of ourselves and our environment

circadian rhythm

the biological clock; regular bodily rhythms that occur on a 24-hour cycle

REM sleep

rapid eye moment sleep; a recurring sleep stage during which vivid dreams commonly occur. Also known as paradoxical sleep, because the muscles are relaxed (except for minor twitches) but other body systems are active

alpha waves

the relatively slow brain waves of a relaxed, awake state


periodic, natural loss of consciousness - as distinct from unconsciousness resulting from a coma, general anesthesia, or hibernation


false sensory experiences, such as seeing something in the absence of an external visual stimulus

delta waves

the large, slow brain waves associated with deep sleep

NREM sleep

non-rapid eye movement sleep; encompasses all sleep stages except for REM sleep


recurring problems in falling or staying asleep


a sleep disorder characterized by uncontrollable sleep attacks. The sufferer may lapse directly into REM sleep, often at inopportune times

sleep apnea

a sleep disorder characterized by temporary cessations of breathing during sleep and repeated momentary awakenings

night terrors

a sleep disorder characterized by a high arousal and an appearance of being terrified; unlike nightmares, night terrors occur during Stage 4 sleep, within two or three hours of falling asleep, and are seldom remembered


a sequence of images, emotions, and thoughts passing through a sleeping person's mind. Dreams are notable for their hallucinatory imagery, discontinuities, and incongruities, and for the dreamer's delusional acceptance of the content and later difficulties remembering it

manifest content

according to Freud, the remembered story line of a dream (as distinct from its latent, or hidden, content)

latent content

according to Freud, the underlying meaning of a dream (as distinct from its manifest content)

REM rebound

the tendency for REM sleep to increase following REM sleep deprivation (created by repeated awakenings during REM sleep)


a social interaction in which one person suggests to another that certain perceptions, feelings thoughts or behaviors will spontaneously occur

posthypnotic suggestions

a suggestion, made during a hypnosis session, to be carried out after the subject is no longer hypnotized; used by some clinicians to help control undesired symptoms and behaviors


a split in consciousness, which allows some thoughts and behaviors to occur simultaneously with others

psychoactive drug

a chemical substance that alters perceptions and moods


the diminishing effect with regular use of the same dose of a drug, requiring the user to take larger and larger doses before experiencing the drug's effect


the discomfort and distress that follow discontinuing the use of an addictive drug

physical dependence

a physiological need for a drug, marked by unpleasant withdrawal symptoms when the drug is discontinued

psychological dependence

a psychological need to use a drug, such as to relieve negative emotions


compulsive drug craving and use, despite adverse consequences


drugs (such as alcohol, barbiturates, and opiates) that reduce activity and slow body functions


drugs that depress the activity of the central nervous system, reducing anxiety but impairing memory and judgment


opium and its derivatives, (such as morphine and heroin); they depress neural activity, temporarily lessening pain and anxiety


drugs (such as caffeine, nicotine, and more powerful amphetamines, cocaine, and ecstasy) that excite neural activity and speed up the body functions


drugs that stimulate neural activity, causing sped-up body functions and associated energy and mood changes


a powerfully addictive drug that stimulates the central nervous system, with sped-up body functions and associated energy and mood changes; over time, appears to reduce baseline dopamine levels

ecstasy (MDMA)

a synthetic stimulant and mild hallucinogen. produces euphoria and social intimacy, but with short term health risks and longer-term harm to serotonin-producing neurons and to mood and cognition


psychedlic drugs, such as LSD, that distort perception and evoke sensory images in the absence of sensory input


a powerful hallucigenic drug; also known as acid

near-death experience

an altered state of consciousness reported after a close brush with death (such as cardiac arrest); often similar to drug-induced hallucinations


the major active ingredient in marijuana; triggers a variety of effects, including mild hallucinations


process of sensory receptors receiving and representing a stimulus
App: seeing, hearing, tasting, smelling, feeling touch


process of organizing and interpreting sensory information
App: recognizing the face of a friend

Bottom-up Processing

analysis beginning with sensory receptors and working up to the brains integration
App: detecting lines and colors in a photo

Top-Down Processing

analysis guided by the brains higher functions and experience
App: notice expressions in a photo

Selective Attention

focusing on a particular stimulus
App: listening to one voice in a crowded place

Inattentional Blindness

failing to notice objects because of distracted attention
App: failing to notice the gorilla (video)

Change Blindness

failing to notice environmental changes
App: failing to notice a change in the person one is giving instructions to (video)


study of physical characteristics of stimuli and the way they are experienced
App: Psychophysicist studies the absolute thresholds for sounds for babies

Absolute Threshold

minimum stimulation needed for a stimulus to be detected 50 % of the time
App: hearing test done where a specialists exposes you to sounds and tests at which tone you could detect the sound half of the time

Signal Detection Theory

theory predicting how and when we detect a stimulus amid background stimulation
App: parents of a newborn are more likely to detect faint whimpers than louder, unimportant sounds


below one's absolute thershold for conscious awareness
App: hearing a masked message "I am thin" helps people lose weight


activation of associations that predisposes one's perception
App: flashing a picture of a kitten resulted in people responding more nicely than if they were flashed a picture of a werewolf

Difference Threshold

minimum difference between two stimuli required to be detected 50% of the time
App: will notice when 1 oz of water is added to 10 oz, but not if 1 oz is added to 100 oz

Weber's Law

principle that two stimuli must differ by a constant percentage
App: two lights must difference by an intensity of 8 percent for the average person to notice the change

Sensory Adaptation

diminished sensitivity due to constant stimulation
App: don't notice a watch that you put on at the beginning of the day


conversion of energy forms. In sensation transforms stimulus energies into neural impulses
App: eye transforms light energy into neuralimpulses


distance from peak to peak of light or sound waves
App: short wavelengths show a blue color


color determined by wavelength of light
App: red shades show from long wavelenghts


amount of energy in light or sound waves
App: bright of pastel blue


opening in the center of the eye


ring of muscil around the pupil that controls the opening size


transparent structure behind pupil, changes shape for focusing

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