05 Cognitive Psychology: Module 10




Scarince, Collin

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Module 10: Memory and Information Processing Theory Perry woke up for the morning feeling relaxed and refreshed until he looked at the clock. His first class of the day was going to start in 15 minutes! He had forgotten to set his alarm the night before. He jumped out of bed, quickly threw some cloths on, grabbed his backpack, and ran out the door. Fortunately, he arrived to class only a few minutes late. He sat down, pulled out his notebook, and stated feeling around for pencil. Nothing. Perry could have sworn he had put a bunch of pencils in his backpack earlier. What good was his notebook without something to write? Then, he saw one of his classmates pull a pen from the small front pocket of their backpack. Instantly, Perry could vividly remember grabbing a handful of pencils and putting them in the side pocket of his backpack the other day. He unzipped the pocket to find the writing utensils at last. Why did I forget so much this morning? Perry wondered. Why do I remember something one minute, and forget it the next? “Memory” is a single term that reflects a number of different abilities: holding information briefly while working with it (working memory), remembering episodes of one’s life (episodic memory), and our general knowledge of facts of the world (semantic memory), among other types. Remembering episodes involves three processes: encoding information (learning it, by perceiving it and relating it to past knowledge), storing it (maintaining it over time), and then retrieving it (accessing the information when needed). Failures can occur at any stage, leading to forgetting or to having false memories. The key to improving one’s memory is to improve processes of encoding and to use techniques that guarantee effective retrieval. Good encoding techniques include relating new information to what one already knows, forming mental images, and creating associations among information that needs to be remembered. The key to good retrieval is developing effective cues that will lead the rememberer back to the encoded information. Classic mnemonic systems, known since the time of the ancient Greeks and still used by some today, can greatly improve one’s memory abilities. In this module, we reveal what psychologists and others have learned about memory, and we also explain the general principles by which you can improve your own memory for factual material. You will learn more about the different memory storage systems in more depth in the following chapters.



open educational resources, cognitive psychology, memory, information processing theory



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