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

flashbulb memory

a clear memory of an emotionally significant moment or event (ex. 9/11)


1st step of information processing/memory storage; how we get information into our brain; input is translated into something meaningful to be remembered


2nd step of information processing/memory storage; retaining info for long periods of time


3rd step of information processing/memory storage; getting the memory back out

three-stage processing

Atkinson and Shiffrin's 3-stage memory model; 1. info is recorded as sensory memory, 2. processed into short-term memory, 3. encoded for long-term memory

sensory memory

the immediate, very brief, initial recording of information from our eyes, ears, taste, touch, and smell info in the memory system; includes most immediate thoughts

short-term memory

memory that holds a few items briefly before they are stored or forgotten; includes some important thoughts; can remember up to 7 things (ex. phone numbers)

long-term memory

the permanent and limitless storehouse of memory; includes knowledge, skills, and experiences

working memory

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

automatic processing

unconscious encoding of space, time, and frequency and of well-learned information, such as word meanings; (ex. remembering where you ate yesterday)

effortful processing

encoding that requires attention and conscious attempts; (ex. studying - what you're doing right now)


the conscious repetition of information; used to encode for storage; as it increases, re-learning time decreases

spacing effect

the tendency for study that is stretched over longer periods of time to yield better results than studying the night before

serial position effect

tendency to remember the first and last items better than the rest; remember things because of their place on the list.

visual encoding

remembering images and graphics or pictures

acoustic encoding

remembering sounds, especially word sounds (ex. it's easier to remember rhymes)

semantic encoding

the encoding of meaning; remembering meaning (ex. word meaning)


mental pictures; powerful aid to effortful processing

mnemonic devices

memory aids; includes method of loci, peg-word system, acronyms

method of loci

Greek mnemonic device; scholars would imagine themselves in different LOCations and associated each place with an image of the to-be-remembered topic

peg-word system

associating an idea with a peg word; (ex. one is a bun, two is a shoe, three is a tree...I want to remember to buy carrots at the store, so I image a carrot-flavored bun.)


organizing items into meaningful, familiar categories; often occurs automatically; (it's easier to remember 1492 and 1812 instead of 1,4,9,2,1,8,1,2,)


creating words or setences from the first letters of words to be remembered (ex. ROY G. BIV)

Iconic memory

a photographic memory lasting for a few tenths of a second; everyone has it; discovered by Sperling

echoic memory

a momentary audio memory of a sound; sounds, words, and repetitions of sound can be remembered within 3 to 4 seconds, even if attention is elsewhere

long-term potentiation

prolonged strengthening of POTENTIAL neuron firings; by stimulating certain neural connections repeatedly, they become more efficient at releasing neurotransmitters; neural basis for learning and memory


the loss of memory

implicit memory

learning still occurs, but the person doesn't remember what they have learned; implied memories; also called procedural memory or nondeclarative memory (ex. amnesia patient plays golf a lot and gets good at it, but can't remember ever playing golf)

explicit memory

memory of facts that one can consciously known and DECLARE; also known as declarative memory; one can declare that they remember the experience or fact


the neural center in the limbic system that processes explicit memories for storage; (ex. We don't remember our first 3 years because the this is the last brain structure to develop, yet we still remember how to crawl and eat and breathe)


processing site for implicit memories; memories for skills and conditioned associations are kept here


stores implicit emotional memories; damage to this brain area prevents one from learning to fear


ability to retrieve information not in conscious awareness (ex. fill-in-the-blank test)


ability to identify items previously learned (ex. multiple-choice test)


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


identifying the strands that lead to a specific memory held in storage; gear up the mind to get the specific details out

deja vu

"I've seen this before"; cues from your current situation my subconsciously trigger retrieval of past memories

mood-congruent memory

tendency to recall experiences that are consistent with one's current good or bad frame of mind.


confusing the source of info (ex. remembering a movie scene as a real life event)

proactive interference

when stuff you learned in the past interferes with what you're learning now (ex. Grandma can never be a computer expert because she thinks the computer is an old typewriter.)

retroactive interference

when new information makes it harder to remember old information; (ex. There are so many new styles out nowadays that I can't remember the old clothing styles!)

misinformation effect

incorporating misleading information into one's memory of an event (ex. How fast were the cars going when they SMASHED into eachother?)

source amnesia

also called misattribution; attributing the wrong origin to an event we have experienced, heard about, read about, or imagined (ex. remembering a movie scene as something the really happened)

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