How Things Get Remembered
Long-Term Memory System
Encoding and LTM
Remembering and Forgetting
Searching for Memory
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More on Remembering & Forgetting:
Associative retrieval is an automatic reminding process. It occurs when a cue automatically triggers an experience of remembering. Strategic retrieval is a slow deliberate search of memory to generate hints and cures. Strategic retrieval interrogates the automatic retrieval process.
The Engram - Memory Trace: Encoding the experience strengthen the connections between groups of neurons. The resulting transient or enduring changes in our brains are called engrams. The engram is the representation of a memory in the brain. A retrieval cue induces a pattern of activity: if this pattern is similar to a previously encoded pattern you remember the event. The "memory" in a neural network model is a unique pattern reconstructed from the cue and the engram. There is no one-to-one correspondence between a bit of information stored away and the conscious recollection of a experience. "A neural network combines information in the present environment with patterns that have been stored in the past, and the resulting mixture of the two is what the network remembers." Memories are records of how we experienced events, not replicas of the events themselves.
Encoding specificity principal: In order for us to remember, there must be a similarity or affinity between encoding and retrieval process. "The specific way a person thinks about or encodes an event determines what 'gets into' the engram, and the likelihood of later recalling the event depends on the extent to which a retrieval cue reinstated or matches the original encoding." A person's subjective perception of an event, including thoughts, fantasies, or inferences occurred at the time of encoding, determines the cues to elicit recalls. Only a subset of cues that are closely related to the original encoding must be available. Retrieval will fail, if encoding conditions are not adequately reinstated at the attempted recall. Extensive elaborate encoding does not help if cues aren't available to elicit recalls. "Elaborate encoding yields higher level of explicit memory than non-elaborate encoding, probably because a rich & elaborate encoding is accessible to a broad range of retrieval curs, whereas a shallow encoding can be elicited only by a few perfect matched cures."
There are two theories of forgetting: one theory is that everything is permanently stored in the mind, and the other theory is that some information maybe lost from memory forever. According to the first theory, we do not remember because we do not have something (cues) that reminds us of an event or experience. If we search for cues, we are able to access the information: nothing will be lost forever. The second theory holds that once we forget something, it is lost and never recovered. Sometimes, we forget because the right cures are not available, but it is also likely that sometimes we forget because the relevant engrams have weakened or become blurred. Therefore, the second theory is probably realistic.
Source(s): Daniel L. Schacter, "Searching for memory: the brain,
the mind, and the past", (New York, 1996).