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Unit 7A Vocabulary


the persistence of learning over time through the storage and retrieval of information


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


the retention of encoded information over time

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, before the information is stored or forgotten

long-term memory

the relatively permanent and limitless storehouse of the memory system. includes knowledge, skills and experiences

working memory

a newer understanding of short-term memory that focuses on conscious, active processing of incoming auditory and visual-spatial information, and of information retrieved from long-term memory

parallel processing

the processing of many aspects of a problem simultaneously; the brain's natural mode of information processing for many functions. Contrasts with the step-by-step (serial) processing of most computers and of conscious problem solving

automatic processing

unconscious encoding of incidental information, such as space, time, and frequency, and of well-learned information, such as word meanings

effortful processing

encoding that requires attention and conscious effort


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

spacing effect

the 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

the encoding of picture images

acoustic encoding

the encoding of sound, especially the sound of words

semantic encoding

the encoding of meaning, including the meaning of words


mental pictures; a powerful aid to effortful processing, espcially when combined with semantic encoding


memory aids, especially those techniques that use vivid imagery and organizational devices


organizing items into familiar, manageable units; often occurs automatically

iconic memory

a momentary sensory memory of visual stimuli; a photographic or picture-image memory lasting no more than a few tenths of a second

echoic memory

a momentary sensory memory of auditory stimuli; if attention is elsewhere, sounds and words can still be recalled within 3 or 4 seconds

long-term potentiation (LTP)

an increase in a synapse's firing potential after breif, rapid stimulation. Believed to be a neural basis for learning and memory

flashbulb memory

a clear memory of an emotionally significant moment or event


the loss of memory

implicit memory

retention independent of conscious recollection (Also called nondeclarative or procedural memory)

explicit memory

memory of facts and experiences that one can consciously know and "declare" (also called declarative memory)


a neural center that is located in the limbic system; helps process explicit memories for storage


a measure of memory in which the person must retrieve information learned earlier, as on a fill-in-the-blank test


a measure of memory in which the person need only identify items previously learned, as on a multiple-choice test


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


the activation, often unconsciously, of particular associations in memory

deja vu

that eerie sense that ("I've experienced this before.") cues from the current situation may subconsciously trigger retrieval of an earlier experience

mood-congruent memory

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

proactive interference

the disruptive effect of prior learning on the recall of new information

retroactive interference

the 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 of imagined (Also called source misattribution) Source amnesia, along with the misinformation effect, is at the heart of many false memories

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