Learning and Memory Encoding

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					  Learning and Memory: Encoding

 – Elaborative rehearsal tends to promote better
   retention than maintenance rehearsal.
    Maintenance rehearsal involves recycling information
     in STM to keep it active.
    Elaborative rehearsal, on the other hand, relates to-
     be-remembered information to other data, providing
     a stronger memory trace for the critical information.
    (How would you remember this series of numbers?
      – 3829501)
  Learning and Memory: Encoding

 What does elaborative processing exactly
  – Elaboration connects ideas together.
  – Elaboration increases the distinctiveness of
  – Elaboration requires cognitive effort, which is
    seen as enhancing retention.
   Learning and Memory: Encoding
 Another basic idea involved in the encoding of
  information involves the utilization of imagery, as
  not all encoding occurs at the verbal level.
   – When using visualization as an encoding aid, concrete
     words (e.g., house) tend to be recalled better than
     abstract words (e.g., justice).
   – Why does visualization work?
       A distinct possibility is that visual information, such as a picture,
        can contain many more details that can serve as cues, when
        compared to words.
       Dual-Coding Theory also suggests that pictures tend to be
        encoded in two ways: a visual representation and a verbal
        representation of the picture.
   Learning and Memory: Encoding
 Meaningfulness also plays a role in encoding.
  – Meaningful words tend to be a) easily pronounced, b)
    more associated to other concepts, and c) easily
    imagined, in comparison to non-meaningful words.
  – How does meaningfulness develop? The key seems to
    be prior experience.
      Prior experience is a major factor when developing expertise in
       a given area; experts tend to view situations in more meaningful
       manners than novices.
      (How has your ability to understand psychology changed over
       the years?)
  Learning and Memory: Encoding

 – The serial position of an item is an important
   factor involved in the encoding of information.
     The classic primacy and recency effects, which have
      been discussed elsewhere, illustrate that the manner
      in which information is presented to individuals does
      play a major role in how that information is encoded.
     (What would you do to combat the serial position
   Learning and Memory: Encoding
 The von Restorff (or isolation) effect (VRE)
  illustrates the role of distinctiveness in material
   – The VRE occurs when some piece of to-be-
     remembered material is made distinct among other to-
     be-remembered items. The distinctiveness of the one
     item isolates that stimulus from the others, making it
     more distinct and easier to remember.
   – When stimuli are made vivid (i.e., arousing one’s
     emotional system), however, the memory-enhancing
     effect of the VRE is not always found.
       Why not? The vividness of the presentation can be so
        emotionally arousing that it interferes with one’s ability to
        process the information. (read p. 272)
 cow, pig, horse, chicken, farm, barn, duck,
  Learning and Memory: Encoding
 The Seductive Detail Effect occurs when
  people have trouble remembering critical
  main ideas regarding a particular piece of
  information, but do recall tangential
  elements of a topic that are designed to
  grab one’s attention.
  – This effect is said to be due to having one’s
    attention diverted away from the main idea,
    which then reduces the amount of processing
    that occurs around the critical information.
  – (Speaking of parent child communication…C.
    and Christmas ’96)
   Learning and Memory: Encoding
 The manner in which stimuli are spaced can also influence
  memory: the Spacing Effect suggests that spaced (or
  distributed) practice leads to better memory than massed
  practice. Why?
   – The Retrograde Amnesia hypothesis: sequential massed presentations of
     items tend to interfere with a prior memory of information.
   – The Attention Deficit hypothesis: one’s attention to detail tends to diminish
     if practice sessions occur too closely together in time.
   – The Encoding Variability hypothesis: spaced practices lead to different
     encodings of information, which allows for the possibility of multiple
     retrieval cues to enhance memory.
   – An exception to the spacing-is-better heuristic occurs when after a short
     delay following the second presentation of information; in this context,
     massed practice has a retention advantage over spaced practice.
  Learning and Memory: Encoding

 The Generation Effect (GE) has also been
  shown to have a profound impact on
  information encoding.
  – The GE occurs when subjects generate material
    to be studied in a memory experiment.
  – An example of the type of generation involved in
    the GE would be to give a subject the nouns
    BOAT and DOG, and have them create their
    own sentence using these items.
Learning and Memory: Encoding
 Many of the memory-enhancing effects
  connected to the encoding/presentation of
  information are limited to tasks involving
  explicit information processing; implicit
  memory for information tends to not be
  influenced by these memory enhancing
  – The specific explicit effects that show this
    benefit are depth of processing, serial position,
    and the generation effect.
  Learning and Memory: Encoding
  – A learner can take an incidental or intentional approach to learning.
      (you bring your own “stuff” to the table)
  – The promise of an incentive for high recall can also influence
      An incentive does not influence memory itself; it simply makes
        one engage in behaviors that are likely to lead to better
        information retention.
  Learning and Memory: Encoding

 If a learner has a personal interest in the
  material, retention of the material is also
  likely to increase.
  – Women have been shown to recall personal
    relationships to a higher degree of clarity and
  – Why?
Learning and Memory: Encoding
 – Suggested cause for this effect is that women
   might be viewed as relationship experts when
   compared to males, and therefore invest more
   cognitive energy in understanding the nuances
   of how people relate to each other.
   Learning and Memory: Encoding
 One’s level of physiological arousal can also
  influence memory.
  – The Yerkes-Dodson Law suggests that the relationship
    between physiological arousal and memory generates
    an inverted-U curve
  – Different chemical agents (e.g., stimulant drugs and
    glucose) can have an arousing effect on the brain, and
    such arousal tends to be positively correlated with
    improved memory. REMEMBER, HOWEVER--
  – Some research has even shown that circadian rhythms
    may play a role in learning and memory ability.
      Are you a “lark” or an “owl”?
  Learning and Memory: Encoding
 The emotions surrounding an encoding event can
  also play a role in how memories are formed.
  Several ideas attempt to explain how emotion
  influences memory.
  – Emotional arousal tends to focus one’s attention on
    critical information, eliminating peripheral pieces of
  – Emotional stimuli lead to the production of epinephrine,
    which in turn stimulates the amygdala in the brain’s
    limbic system. The amygdala, in turn, is said to be
    responsible for the creation of emotional memories.
   Learning and Memory: Encoding
 Emotional events are distinct, which leads to them
  being rehearsed and elaborated more than non-
  distinct memories.
  – Related to this notion of distinctiveness is the idea of
    flashbulb memories
  – Some people have made the claim that flashbulb
    memories are highly clear and accurate, although others
    have shown that the professed accuracy of flashbulb
    memories is not always true.
   Learning and Memory: Encoding
 Related to the interaction of emotions and memory
  is the subdiscipline of eyewitness memories.
  – Eyewitnesses to crimes and other events may be
    believed (by jurors, for example) to be highly accurate,
    but research shows that this is not always the case.
  – The Weapon Focus Phenomenon is one experience
    related to eyewitness recall--witnesses remember
    certain details (e.g., the type of gun used in a mugging)
    about an event, but fail to recall other information (e.g.,
    a description of the perpetrator).
  Learning and Memory: Encoding
  – Schemas are outlines of knowledge (e.g., “how to drive a car”)
  – Schemas influence several variables:
       Guide the selection of what information will be encoded.
       Provide a general storage framework, allowing our minds to be efficient
        when storing information.
       Look for common features across events and store abstract, general
        knowledge in a concise form, as opposed to redundantly storing
        needless details.
       Provide cues that enable us to retrieve information when necessary.
       Can sometimes distort our perceptions of events, as we sometimes
        see what is expected (according to an existing schema), as opposed to
        what is really there.
          – These encoding errors can be influenced by stereotypes and the loss of
            event details that tend to occur over time.
 Learning and Memory: Encoding

 – Metamemory is another critical encoding
   variable, as it reflects our knowledge of how our
   memory system(s) operate to process
 – The effectiveness of metamemory follows a
   developmental pattern: as we age, our
   metamemory tends to increase.
  Learning and Memory: Encoding

 – In the context of academic learning, several
   factors have been connected to information
    Note-taking skills are an early step in the encoding of
Learning and Memory: Encoding
– Students tend to enhance their processing of
  information by experiencing Elaborative
  Interrogation--teachers asking students
  questions about course content that go beyond
  rote memory of facts (e.g., “Why does theory X
  lead to conclusion Y, and not conclusion Z?”).
Learning and Memory: Encoding
 – The meaningfulness and distinctiveness of
   information is made apparent in textbooks
   where certain terms appear in bold type, or are
   set apart from the text as chapter and section
   headings, etc.
 – Circadian rhythms may also play a role in
   learning; one might be better able to learn in the
   morning, afternoon, or evening, depending on
   what type of cycle their body’s internal clock is
   functioning under.