Psychology: Memory

How Things Get Remembered
Long-Term Memory System
Memory Organization
Encoding and LTM
Remembering and Forgetting

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More on Encoding and Long-Term Memory:

"We cannot separate our memories of the ongoing events of our lives from what has happened to us previously." - Daniel L. Schacter, "Searching for memory: the brain, the mind, and the past", (New York, 1996).

Elaborate encoding reflects and relates/integrates new information to other things we already know. The only aspects of the experience that are comprehensible or somewhat familiar to us are encoded. We tend to organize and categorize incoming information based on the order we established for ourselves. Therefore, things won't fit into the organization categories are easily ignored. For this reason, what we select and encode depends on our past experience, knowledge, preference - who we are and what we know. Since what we recall is what we select/encode, we are at the mercy of our past which shaped our encoding biases and schema

For example, you show people a picture of cats. Later, you ask them what they remember about the picture. What people remember tells you about the experiences they had with cats in their pasts. If one woman recalls in details breed of the cats in the picture, you guess that she has some experience in showing or breeding cats. If one guy remembers all the details about furniture and drapes in the room but has very poor recollection of the cats, you'd assume he is more interested in the room than the cats. Maybe he is a decorator. One woman points out lighting and printing technique - she is interested in photography than the cats. It is interesting to point out differences by testing people and finding out what gets their attention. It quickly reveals their interests and what they know about the subjects in the picture.

Source(s): Daniel L. Schacter, "Searching for memory: the brain, the mind, and the past", (New York, 1996).


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