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Tracing The Memory System Unit 4 Ip


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In tracing the memory system from stimuli into long-term memory this article will discuss features and step by step factors that will enhance or impede the information flow through each process. …

In tracing the memory system from stimuli into long-term memory this article will discuss features and step by step factors that will enhance or impede the information flow through each process. Proactive and Retroactive interference will be explained where a maximum absorption of information might counteract each of their effects during this study that will result in long-term memory. An explanation of various types of forgetting will be discussed and you will be shown some strategies that can improve memory consolidation and/or retrieval. The thesis for this Article is “Our Memory is our own personal Diary”. (McCoy, C., 2009)

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  • 1. Running Head: TRACING THE MEMORY SYSTEM<br />Memory, Thinking, and Intelligence<br />Carla J. McCoy<br />Unit 4 Individual Project – Aspects of Psychology<br />American InterContinental University<br />February 1st, 2009<br />Abstract<br />In tracing the memory system from stimuli into long-term memory this article will discuss features and step by step factors that will enhance or impede the information flow through each process. Proactive and Retroactive interference will be explained where a maximum absorption of information might counteract each of their effects during this study that will result in long-term memory. An explanation of various types of forgetting will be discussed and you will be shown some strategies that can improve memory consolidation and/or retrieval. The thesis for this Article is “Our Memory is our own personal Diary”. (McCoy, C., 2009)<br />Introduction<br />It’s true that our memory allows us to store information for later use and we each remember things or transform the information we have by using various things such as images, sounds, colors, or something we can associate with an existing memory. Clear Presentations of tracing the memory system from stimuli into long-term memory and discussing features of each step will be shown here. There are factors that enhance information or impede the flow during each step of the process as well. When explaining Proactive and Retroactive interference there are ideas that show how people might counteract certain effects when studying which will facilitate maximum absorptions of information into long term memory. Another area to discuss here is how and why people forget things and the different types of forgetting we each have. There are strategies we can take that will improve memory consolidation and/or retrieval. One good thing to remember here is that we all have memories whether they are good or bad, we all have our own personal diaries within our memories which are something no other person can ever take away from any of us. (McCoy, C., 2009) <br />Tracing the Memory System<br />There are three processes involved in memory that everyone should master. The first is called encoding which is where information is transformed to be stored by means of transforming it into a memory that’s meaningful by associating it with various things such as images, colors, sound, or even associating it with an existing memory. The next process is called storage which is where physiological change has to take place in order for memory to be stored. And lastly we all have a process called retrieval which is where we can retrieve memories that we stored originally during the encoding process so basically we return the information we stored to the same point in which we stored the information to begin with. (Psychology 101, 2009) Memory actually begins with perception but it has to be encoded into creating a memory that is rooted in the Senses. There are various sensations we receive from other people such as our visual system which registers things such as physical features about them, or the color of their hair or eyes. You can also take a look at the auditory system which may have picked up the scent of their cologne or perfume, or the sound of their laugh. Each separate sensation that we experience travels to what is called the hippocampus part of your brain which has integrated your perceptions of the experiences you’ve had with various people. The hippocampus and frontal cortex analyzes various sensory inputs to see if they are worth remembering or not. If they are then they could possibly become part of your long term memory. Various pieces of information we get from other people are stored in various parts of our brains. It is unknown how we later identify and retrieve information that we store to form a cohesive memory. <br />We all have nerve cells that connect with other cells at the synapse where the action occurs in our brains with other synapses. We all have electrical impulses that leap across gaps in our brains which then releases chemical messengers called neurotransmitters. These neurotransmitters diffuse across the spaces between cells, and then attach themselves to neighboring cells. Each individual brain cell can perform thousands of links like this which can give the brain approximately 100 trillion synapses. A particular part of the brain cells that receive these electrical impulses is called dendrites which are the feathery tips of brain cells that reach out to neighboring brain cells. Of course we all know that connections between brain cells are not set in concrete because they change often. Plasticity within our brains can help rewire itself if our brains ever get damaged all because brain cells work together. Brain cells organize themselves into groups that perform different kinds of information processing. Where one brain cell will signal to another, the synapse between the two will get stronger and where there are more signals being sent between the two means they are getting stronger and the connection grows. Our brains are capable of organizing and then reorganizing itself by the experiences we each have and the things we all learn in the world. As we learn and information becomes repetitive we have intricate circuits of knowledge and memory that are embedded in the brain. In order to encode a memory we have to first pay attention because most things that occur within our daily lives are simply filtered out because we can’t pay attention to everything all the time and only a few stimuli actually pass into our conscious awareness. One thing that scientists are unsure about is if stimuli are screened out during the sensory input stage or if it happens after the brain processes what is significant. (Mohs, R., 2006-2009) One thing I found Interesting is that not all scientists agree on the distribution of memory in the human brain. Some scientists assume that the human brain constitutes memory in one particular region within the brain whether others believe that memory is distributed through out the brain. (Gunaseelan, J., 2004-2009)<br />Proactive and Retroactive Interference<br />When a person can’t retrieve information they know they learned or experienced because that previous information is interfering with the retrieval process, then the interference is working forward in time and is called Proactive. On the other hand if a person can’t retrieve information they learned or experienced because later information is interfering with the retrieval process, then the interference is working backwards in time and is called Retroactive. We also need to take a look at the release from proactive interference which is where material that is being kept in a persons short term memory improves performance if the material is changed which is further evidence that interference plays an important role in short term memory forgetting. One might counteract each effect while studying or being given a test in order to facilitate maximum absorption of information into long term memory and there’s one study that was done to prove this theory. Gardiner, Craik & Britwhistle (1972) gave subjects a set of three words in a category which was followed by 10 distractor words that were spelt backwards in which each subject was suppose to say forwards. After this the subjects were prompted for the first three words. After doing this three times, the fourth trial subjects were either given a clue prior to seeing the words, prior to being prompted to recall the words, or not given a clue at all. Each clue given indicated that the words were from a subset of the category (e.g., wild flowers or garden flowers). Subjects that were not given a clue declined in recall performance, but subjects who were demonstrated the release from Proactive Interference which proves that people can impose some categorical knowledge on information they’ve already seen in a way that memory performance will improve. (<br />Types of Forgetting <br />There are seven types of forgetting which include Repressed Erasure, Prescriptive Forgetting, Forgetting that is constitutive in the formation of a new Identity, Structural Amnesia, Forgetting as Annulment, Forgetting as planned Obsolescence, and Forgetting as Humiliated Silence. There are also seven types of normal memory problems which include Transience, Absentmindedness, Blocking, Misattribution, Suggestibility, Bias, and Persistence. Everyone forgets things sometimes, this is normal, but it’s not normal to forget too much. The Human Memory has a Use-It-Or-Lose-It quality. When we forget facts or events over time this is called Transience. Some people may view Transience as a memory weakness; however it can be beneficial due to clearing the brain of unused memories and allowing new space to be created for newer memories. Transience can be referred to basically as cleaning the junk out of your closet. Every human experiences Transience of memory, but to people with things such as amnesia or damage to the hippocampus this can be debilitating for them. (Harvard University Health Publications, 2009) Absentmindedness occurs when people don’t pay attention closely enough such as forgetting where you laid your neck tie or socks. This happens because you were currently thinking of something else or nothing in particular when you put that neck tie and socks somewhere and your brain didn’t encode the information securely. (Harvard University Health Publications, 2009)<br />Another form of Absentmindedness would be forgetting to do something at a prescribed time such as bedtime or breakfast. A good example of this would be keeping a Dr. Appointment or taking a prescribed Medicine. This becomes a problem when you don’t focus on cues that can serve as reminders for you to do something such as placing your medication on the bathroom sink at night so when you wake up your morning routine of say brushing your teeth and seeing the pills on the sink will trigger your memory that you need to take your medicine that morning. Another example would be posting your Dr. Appointment on the Refrigerator. If you do this then when you wake up the morning of the Appointment, you’ll see that you have to be at the Dr’s office at a certain time when you go to eat Breakfast. Blocking is something everyone experiences as well. When blocking occurs it’s not that you didn’t encode the information properly or that you weren’t paying attention, it’s just a temporary inability to retrieve a memory because something is keeping you from finding it. A good example of this would be to call one of your 3 children by the wrong name. You might call one son what your other sons name is. Brain imaging has been done in order to figure out how blocking might occur in the brain. There are areas in the brain that become more active and others that become less active when a person is trying to retrieve a memory. The active part of the brain inhibit other areas of the brain in this case and when they are activated and inhibiting other areas it can also at times keep a persons brain from retrieving information. In other words the part of the brain that encoded the information may be suppressed because other areas of the brain are so active. Memory blocks are more common as people age. (Harvard University Health Publications, 2009)<br />Misattribution is another form of forgetting. A good example here to use would be if someone asked you who Angela Smith is and you remember who she is but also remember what she’s done lately that’s been in the news on television. Then someone asks you where you learned that information from and you tell them that you learned it from the television on the evening news. However there was actually no report about Angela Smith on the evening news on television, but rather instead you got your information from a close friend that you had dinner with last night. So in this case you got the right memory, but the wrong source which would be a classic example of misattribution which is where you remember something quite accurately but misattribute details such as persons involved, place, and time. Another kind of misattribution is when you actually believe a thought you had was completely original when actually it came from something you read, or heard but had forgotten about. This type of Misattribution explains cases of unintentional plagiarism where a writer passes off information that another writer actually wrote as his or her own that they actually read elsewhere at a different time. Misattribution is something that happens to every human and is normally harmless, but can have big consequences. Age actually matters when it comes to Misattribution because people absorb fewer details due to having more trouble concentrating and as we all grow older our memories grow older and older memories are prone to misattribution. (Harvard University Health Publications, 2009)<br />Suggestibility refers to false memories that we develop that will fool your mind into believing it’s a real memory. A good example of this would be when leaving a store such as Lowe’s for instance and you see a person stealing a car but you didn’t get a good look at them. Another lady standing next to you is insisting that the car thief was wearing a bright red jacket with white lettering on it. What’s happened here is that at the same time you are processing some key information of what you actually did see, and processing what the lady told you at the same time, you end up putting it all together as if it was your own memory when it isn’t. Later on when the Police officer shows you photos of a few possible suspects, you get confused until you see a picture of a man wearing a bright red jacket with white lettering on it so you point to him. This is a good example of giving false information because someone else gave you that key information rather than you having had experienced it. (Harvard University Health Publications, 2009) Bias affects all sorts of memories, one of the best examples of this are people’s recollections of their romantic relationships. Within our memories our personal biases are filtered by things such as Reality, prior knowledge, beliefs, our mood, and even experiences. All these things influence what information we can actually recall so there’s a lot of room to forget here also. (Harvard University Health Publications, 2009) Lastly we have Persistence which also involves memories of past events that were traumatic, or having chronic fears, or even negative feelings. Some memories reflect horrifying events while other memories may just be negative distortions of reality. There are two groups of people that are prone to having persistent memories. One group is people who are depressed that actually dwell on the negative events that only fuel more depression. The second group is people who want to get rid of unwanted memories but can’t, these people in most cases have Flashbacks which are persistent and end up with PTSD. Persistent memories require the activation of pieces of the brain that respond to things such as anxiety, fear, or emotionally charged information. (Harvard University Health Publications, 2009)<br />Strategies that Improve Memory Consolidation and Retrieval<br />Some good strategies to use that would Improve Memory Consolidation and Retrieval are listed below:<br />
    • Believe in yourself – Don’t believe it when people tell you aging contributes to a failing memory because it’s been proven that middle aged and older people do worse on memory tasks when they are encouraged by people who have stereotypes about aging and memory. Take the time to learn about memory preservation and how you can improve your own memory. (Harvard Health Publications, 2009)
    • 2. Economize your brain use – Designate a place for every type of reminder you need on a daily basis, and even for ones that are not daily, such as calendars, maps, shopping lists, file folders, planners, address books and keep these items accessible. You can also keep your own personal items in order and in place such as where to put your glasses, keys, or bills that are due. (Harvard Health Publications, 2009)
    • 3. Organize your Thoughts – You can organize your own thoughts by remembering things such as your own phone number (without the area code) because this makes less numbers to remember, or your social security number rather than trying to remember the names of everyone you may have gone to school with etc.. Also Practice makes you using your brain in a repetitive way to which it stores information you are memorizing which will later on make it much easier for you to retrieve information from when you need it. (Harvard Health Publications, 2009)
    • 4. Use all your Senses – Use all the senses you can when you are learning anything such as odors, sight, sound, taste, even emotional content or even the scent of something. Using these senses will help your brain retain memory. (Harvard Health Publications, 2009)
    • 5. Expand your brain – Draw an Image of something you like, or read a book you want to read, even write down all the information you want to learn on a piece of paper just to form images of something. This makes it much easier to remember and understand and it allows certain brain regions to get involved. (Harvard Health Publications, 2009)
    • 6. Repeat after me – Repeating things out loud such as someone’s name and saying it while speaking to them will help you remember their name. Call people by their names when you are introduced and if you forget right after you are introduced, don’t be embarrassed to ask them what their name is once again. Remember its for your own knowledge and memory. (Harvard Health Publications, 2009)
    • 7. Space it out – Try new study techniques such as saying things out loud, or memorizing things once per hour, then the following day do it every few hours, then the third day do it every single day every few hours. Spacing out periods of study will become valuable to you when it comes to your memory when trying to remember things that you originally found complicated. (Harvard Health Publications, 2009)
    • 8. Make a mnemonic – This type of learning takes the form of acronyms, such as “Every good boy does fine,” or for older learners they could create a story mnemonic in which each particular item cues them to remember the next one. (Harvard Health Publications, 2009)
    • 9. Challenge yourself – Engage yourself in activities that require concentration such as discussing books you’ve read, or doing crossword puzzles, trying new foods or tastes, traveling, or taking up crafts as a new hobby that require skills you aren’t comfortable with or have never done. (Harvard Health Publications, 2009)
    • 10. Take a course – They now have memory improvement classes to help people. Never take a course that centers on computer or concentration games, but rather choose courses that focus on practical ways to face and manage everyday challenges. (Harvard Health Publications, 2009)
    • 11. Sleep – This is necessary for memory consolidation so make sure you have a regular sleep routine, avoid coffee and caffeine, plan vigorous exercise early in the day, never take sleeping pills, avoid napping in the daytime, and never try to sleep if you aren’t tired. (Harvard Health Publications, 2009)
    Conclusion<br />Our memories are our own personal diaries. We can sometimes choose to lock it up or we can sometimes choose to use the information we have experienced, learned, seen, heard, seen, discussed, and even felt to our advantage. Keeping our thoughts fresh and having positive attitudes about life and not allowing stereotypes sway your thoughts in any way are keys to having a successful memory. Sometimes we have a need to dump information from our memory in order to create new ones, which is great. One great memory most people have are times spent with loved ones and then we have bad memories as well because everyone eventually goes through something that creates fear, worry, negative emotions, and even trauma. Use this article to keep your mind fresh and gain new ideas on how to use strategies in order to improve your own memory consolidation or retrieval. Remember, our diaries are our life stories and how we want to remember them is up to us. (McCoy, C., 2009)<br />References<br />Psychology 101, (2009) Chapter 6: Memory, Intelligence, and States of Mind retrieved at:<br />Mohs, R., (2006-2009) How Human Memory Works How Stuff Works retrieved at:<br />Gunaseelan, J., (2004-2009) Human Brain and Memory Process retrieved at:<br /> Short Term Memory, Electronic Resource:<br />Harvard University (2000-2009) Forgetting: What’s Normal? Harvard Health Publications Special Health Report at<br />Reprinted from: Improving Memory: Understanding and preventing age-related memory loss — A Special Health Report from Harvard Medical School, (2007) by the President and Fellows of Harvard College at:<br />