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Internal record or representation of some prior event or experience.

Constructive Process

Organizing and shaping of information during processing, storage, and retrieval of memories.


Processing information into the memory system


Retaining information over time


Recovering information from memory storage

Selective attention

Directs our attention to things we consider important

Divided attention

Interferes with our attention to things that are important

Automatic processing

Absorbing and encoding informoation with little or no conscious effort

Controlled processing

Concentrated attention and effort put toward learning information that may be difficult

Levels of processing

Degree or depth of mental processing occurring when material is initially encountered; determines how well material is later remembered

Serial position effect

Remembering words at the beginning (primacy effect) and end (recency effect) of a list


A prompt association we use to get information from memory


Identifying the correct response using cues to recover the information


A general cue to search and retrieve previously learning material


A retrieval cue that occurs when a prior exposure to a stimulus (or prime) activates the recover of related associations

Parallel distrubuted processing

Memory results from weblike connections among interacting processing units operating simultaneously, rather than sequentially (also known as the connectionist model)

Three stage memory model

From sensory memory storage to short term memory storage to long term memory storage (Atkinson and Shiffrin, 1968)

Sensory memory stage

Holds sensory information that lasts up to 1/2 sec visual, 4 sec for auditory, and has a large capacity

Short term memory stage

Holds information tmeporarily for analysis up to 30 seconds without rehearsal and has limited 5-9 item capacity

Long term memory stage

Relatively permanent storage with relatively permanent duration, and relatively unlimited capacity

Sensory memory

First memory stage that holds sensory information; Relatively large capacity, but duration is only a few seconds

Iconic memory

The visual icon or image.

Echoic memory

A weaker auditory sound that lasts up to 4 seconds.

Short term memory

Second memory stage that temporarily stores sensory informaiton and decides whether to send it on to long term memory; Capacity is limited to 5-9 items and duration is about 30 seconds

Maintenance rehearsal

Repeating information over and over to maintain it in short term memory


Grouping seperate pieces of informaiton into a single unit (or chunk)

Long term memory

Third stage of memory that stores information for long periods of time; its capacity is virtually limitless, and its duration is relatively permanent

Central executive

Supervises and coordinates material phonologically and visuospatially along with long term memory

Visuospatial sketchpad

Mentally imagines (holds and manipulates) visual and spatial material

Phonological loop

Rehearses through speech, words, numbers, and allows you to subvocally repeat verbal information

Explicit (declarative) memory

Subsystem within long term memory that consciously stores facts, informaiton, and personal life experiences

Semantic memory

Subsystem of explicit/declarative memory that stores general knowledge; a mental encyclopedia or dictionary

Episodic memory

Subsystem of explicit/declarative memory that stores memories of personally experienced events; a mental diary of a person's life

Implicit (nondeclarative) memory

Subsystem within long term memory consisting of unconscious procedural skills and simple classically conditioned responses

Elaborative rehearsal

Linking new information to previously stored material (also known as deeper levels of processing)

Serial position effect

Information at the beginning and end of a list is remembered better than material in the middle

Retrieval cue

Clue or prompt that helps stimulate recall or retrieval of a stored piece of information from long term memory


Retrieving a memory using a general cue


Retrieving a memory using a specific cue


Prior exposure to a stimulus (or prime) facilitates or inhibits the processing of new information, even when one has no conscious memory of the initial learning and storage

Encoding specificty principle

Retrieval of informaiton is improved when conditions of recovery are similar to the conditions when information was encoded

Mood congruence

People remember information better if their mood during learning and retrieval match

State dependant memory

When you learn something under the influence of a drug, it is more easily remembered when unter the influence of the same drug


Learning material a second time, which usually takes less time than the original learnign (also called the savings method)

Decay theory

Skills and memory deteriorate over time if not used

Interference theory

Retroactive occurs when something new interferes with something old; Proactive occurs when something old interferes with something new

Motivated forgetting theory

People forget unpleasant or anxiety producing information either consciously or unconsciously

Encoding failure theory

Sensory memory receives informaiton but doesn't remember precise details even though we have seen the information over and over

Rerieval failure theory

Memories aren't forgotten, but momentarily inaccessible becaues of emotional states, faulty cues, or interference

Retroactive interference

New information interferes with remembering old information; backward acting interference

Proactive interference

Old information interferes with remembering new information; forward acting interference

Tip of the tongue phenomenon (TOT)

Feeling that specific information is stored in long term memory but of being temporarily unable to retrieve it

Misinformation effect

Distortion of a memory by misleading post event information

Source amnesia

Forgetting the true source of a memory (also called source confusion or source misattribution)

Sleeper effect

Information from an unreliable source, which was initially discounted, later gains credibility because the source is forgotten

Distributed practice

Practice (or study) sessions are interspersed with rest periods

Massed practice

Time spent learning is grouped (or massed) into long, unbroken intervals (also known as cramming)

Long term potentiation

Long lasting increase in neural excitability, which maybe a bilogical mechanism for learning and memory

Flashbulb memories

Vivid images of circumstances associated with surprising or strongly emotioal events


Emotional memory is stored here

Basal ganglia and cerebellum

Creation and storage of the basic memory trace, encoding, and implicit (nondeclarative) memories are stored here

Cerebral cortex

Encoding of explicit (declarative) memories; storage of episodic and semantic memories; skill learning; priming, working memory are here

Hippocampal formation

Memory recognition; Implicit, explicit, spatial, episodic memory; delclarative long term memory; sequences of events are here


Formation of new memories, recognition, semantic, spatial, and working memory are here

Retrograde amnesia

Loss of memory for events before a brain injury; backward acting amnesia


Process by which neutral changes associated with recent learning become durable and stable

Anterograde amnesia

Inability to form new memories after a brain injury; forward acting amnesia

Alzheimer's disease

Progressive mental deterioration characterized by severe memory loss

Mnemonic device

Memory improving technique based on encoding items in a special way

Method of Ioci

A method used by Greek and Romans to remember speeches, where they would imagine parts of the speech in certain places

Peg words

Memorizing a set of 'pegs' on which to hang images to remember them


Creating a code word where each letter represents a name of something to remember (HOMES: Huron, Ontario, Michigan, Erie, Superior)

Encoding storage and retrieval approach

Memory is a process starting with selecting information and translating it into neural messages the brain can understand. Then saving the files to search through later

Biological approach

Looking at biological changes in the synapses that occur during encoding and storage and at where memories are located when retrieval is required

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