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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

Richard Atkinson

Atkinson's most fundamental and far-reaching contribution to cognitive psychology is the Atkinson-Shiffrin model (with Richard M. Shiffrin), one of the most significant advances in the study of human memory. It put a theory of memory on a mathematical basis for the first 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.

Karl Lashley

He was an American psychologist and behaviorist well-remembered for his influential contributions to the study of learning and memory. His failure to find a single biological locus of memory in the rat's brain (or "engram", as he called it) suggested to him that memories were not localized to one part of the brain, but were widely distributed throughout the cerebral cortex.

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.

Oliver Sacks

Oliver Sacks, M.D. is a physician, a best-selling author, and professor of neurology and psychiatry at the Columbia University Medical Center. He is best known for his collections of neurological case histories, including The Man who Mistook his Wife for a Hat (1985), Musicophilia: Tales of Music and the Brain (2007) and The Mind's Eye (2010). Awakenings (1973).

Daniel Schacter

He is an American psychologist. His research has focused on psychological and biological aspects of human memory and amnesia, with a particular emphasis on the distinction between conscious and nonconscious forms of memory and, more recently, on brain mechanisms of memory distortion.


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

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