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Cognitive Psychology And Its Implications, Ch. 7.


Cognitive Psychology And Its Implications, Ch. 7.

Cognitive Psychology And Its Implications, Ch. 7.


Respond in 500 words with some scholarly references. Use citations, cite your references. Please use attachment to answer question. Cite every sentence with content from your sources. There are a few ways to do that including just putting the citation at the end of each sentence.  What did you find most interesting or “surprising” about Chapter 7?

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Human Memory:

Retention and Retrieval

Popular fiction frequently has some protagonist who is unable to recall some critical

memory—either because of some head injury, repression of some traumatic

experience, or just because the passage of time has seemed to erase the memory.

The critical turning event in the story occurs when the protagonist is able to recover

the memory—perhaps because of hypnosis, clinical treatment, returning to an old

context, or (particularly improbable) being hit on the head again. Although our everyday

struggles with our memory are seldom so dramatic, we all have had experiences

with memories that are just at the edge of availability. For instance, try remembering

the name of someone who sat beside you in class in grade school or a teacher of a

class. Many of us can picture the person but will experience a real struggle with retrieving

that person’s name—a struggle at which we may or may not succeed. This chapter

will answer the following questions: • How does memory for information fade with the passage of time? • How do other memories interfere with the retrieval of a desired memory? • How can other memories support the retrieval of a desired memory? • How does a person’s internal and external context influence the recall

of a memory? • How can our past experiences influence our behavior without our being able

to recall these experiences?

Are Memories Really Forgotten?

Figure 7.1 repeats Figure 6.1, identifying the prefrontal and temporal structures

that have proved important in studies of memory. This chapter will focus more

on the temporal (and particularly the hippocampal) contributions to memory,

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Are Memories Really Forgotten? | 177

which play a major role in retention of memory. One of the earliest studies of

the role of the temporal cortex in memory seemed to provide evidence that

forgotten memories are still there even though we cannot retrieve them. As part

of a neurosurgical procedure, Penfield (1959) electrically stimulated portions of

patients’ brains and asked them to report what they experienced (patients were

conscious during the surgery, but the stimulation technique was painless). In

this way, Penfield determined the functions of various portions of the brain.

Stimulation of the temporal lobes led to reports of memories that patients

were unable to report in normal recall, such as events from childhood. This

seemed to provide evidence that much of what seems forgotten is still stored

in memory. Unfortunately, it is hard to know whether the patients’ memory

reports were accurate because there is no way to verify whether the reported

events actually occurred. Therefore, although suggestive, the Penfield experiments

are generally discounted by memory researchers.

A better experiment, conducted by Nelson (1971), also indicates that forgotten

memories still exist. He had participants learn a list of 20 paired associates,

each consisting of a number for which the participant had to recall a

noun (e.g. 43-dog). The subjects studied the list and were tested on it until

they could recall all the items without error. Participants returned for a retest

2 weeks later and were able to recall 75% percent of the associated nouns when

cued with the numbers. However, interest focused on the 25% that they could

no longer recall—were these items really forgotten? Participants were given

new learning trials on the 20 paired associates. The paired associates they had

missed were either kept the same or changed. For example, if a participant had

learned 43-dog but failed to recall the response dog to 43, he or she might now

be trained on either 43-dog (unchanged) or 43-house (changed). Participants

were tested after studying the new list once. If the participants had lost all

memory for the forgotten pairs, there should have been no difference between

recall of changed and unchanged pairs. However, participants correctly recalled

78% of the unchanged items formerly missed, but only 43% of the changed items.

FIGURE 7.1 The brain structures

involved in the creation and

storage of memories. Prefrontal

regions are responsible for

the creation of memories. The

hippocampus and surrounding

structures in the temporal

cortex are responsible for the

permanent storage of these


Brain Structures

Prefrontal regions

active when information

is retrieved

Hippocampal regions

(internal) active during


Anderson7e_Chapter_07.qxd 8/20/09 9:47 AM Page 177

This large advantage for unchanged items indicates that participants had retained

some memory of the original paired associates, even though they had been unable

to recall them initially.

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