BHS 499-07 Memory and Amnesia - PowerPoint PPT Presentation


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BHS 499-07 Memory and Amnesia


BHS 499-07 Memory and Amnesia Autobiographical Memory – PowerPoint PPT presentation

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Title: BHS 499-07 Memory and Amnesia

BHS 499-07 Memory and Amnesia
  • Autobiographical Memory

Autobiographical Memory
  • When we meet people we introduce ourselves by
    exchanging memories.
  • Excerpts from our life story
  • Autobiographical memory covers events, situations
    and other knowledge that spans a persons entire
  • Autobiographical memory is a narrative.

Episodic or Semantic?
  • Autobiographical memories are much more than just
    episodic memory.
  • More constructive and integrative.
  • Spanning multiple events.
  • Includes semantic-like generic info where you
    work, phone numbers, etc.
  • Semantic memories are affected by
    autobiographical memory.
  • We know more about personal heroes.

Levels of Autobiographical Memory
  • Event level detailed, referring to specific,
    individual events.
  • General level referring to extended sequences
    or repeated series of events sharing a common
  • Lifetime period broad, theme-based portions of
    a persons life.
  • Relationship theme, work theme.

Event-Specific Memories
  • These most closely correspond to episodic
  • Involve a common activity at a particular place
  • Lots of perceptual and contextual detail.
  • Includes internal context material about
    emotional reaction and physiological state.
  • May be lost or may endure over time.

Four Characteristics of Enduring Event-Specific
  • Memories of originating events a childhood
    experience that sets someone on a goal-related
    path to a career.
  • Turning points where a life is suddenly
  • Anchoring events for a belief system.
  • Analogous events used to guide future behavior
    e.g., embarrassing moments.

General Event Memories
  • Two types
  • A sequence of event-specific memories that form a
    larger episode (such as the first day of a new
  • A repeating event (such as a class taken).
  • There is often a personal goal that is affected
    by the extended event.
  • Integrative and interpretive thinking used to
    link events into a single memory trace.

Lifetime Period Memories
  • Long periods organized along some common theme.
  • Early childhood, career, education.
  • Recall of autobiographical memories beyond a
    general event is organized along a theme.

Evidence for the Hierarchy
  • This is a heuristic because there are many
    examples of memories that dont fit it is
    unclear where they belong.
  • Smaller parts can be nested into larger ones.
  • People have different aspects of their lives
    going on concurrently overlap.

Neurological Evidence
  • Amnesics can recall general event and lifetime
    periods but not specific events.
  • S.S. (herpes encephalitis) can remember his job
  • K.C. (motorcycle accident) general semantic
    knowledge but not specifics, e.g., floorplan of
    house he grew up in, but not his own room.
  • K.S. (rt. anterior lobectomy for epilepsy)
    recalled specifics but not general info.

Memory as Life Narrative
  • We organize the events of our lives into a
    narrative structure, not semantic.
  • Our life is told as a story
  • We access info using basic event components
    people, places, activities, other themes.
  • Anything stored with the event can be a cue,
    e.g., odors.

Recall of Narrative Memory
  • When people remember, they recall clusters of
    memories around a theme.
  • People remember items related causally to one
  • People remember items that share the same person,
    place or activity not time.
  • Semantic memory is used to make the memories more
    narrative in style.
  • Better at recalling forward, than backward.

  • Field memories experienced from the original
    perspective, as lived.
  • More emotional, common in PTSD
  • Observer memories experienced from outside
    ourselves, perhaps even watching ourselves,
  • We could not do this if memory were not
  • More likely to be older memories, self-aware.

Schema-Copy-Plus-Tag Model
  • The older memories become the more
    schema-consistent because schemas are used to
    fill in missing info.
  • We better remember the parts that are unusual, so
    memory doesnt feel stereotyped.
  • Model says people remember schemas plus tags with
    the deviations, making the memory unique.

Item-Specific vs Relational Processing
  • This distinction between schemas and tags is like
    the semantic distinction between item-specific
    and relational processing.
  • Difficult to tell which schema-consistent events
    really happened and which didnt.
  • It is easy to tell how the event was different
    than the schema (tag contains that info), even
    though it may not be the most important info.

Infantile Amnesia
  • Our earliest memories come from around age 2-4.
  • Many reported memories from earlier ages actually
    come from seeing pictures or hearing family
  • A lot of learning occurs during the first two
    years, but nearly all events are lost.

  • Psychodynamic view repressed by the developing
    superego because they involve fantasies about sex
    with parent.
  • Neurological view the hippocampus is
    undeveloped at birth and only reaches adult form
    after a few years.
  • Schema organization view infants do not yet
    have organized schemas.

More Explanations
  • Language development view language is needed to
    form a coherent narrative.
  • Preverbal children do not translate knowledge
    into verbal info until they learn how to talk.
  • Emergent self view infants lack a sense of
    themselves as separate from environment, no I
    as causal agent.
  • Autobio memories construct around sense of self.

Multicomponent Development Theory
  • There are a number of memory abilities or
    components that emerge to bring about
    autobiographical memory.
  • Adequate episodic memory system
  • Knowledge of how adults think and talk about the
    world and the passage of time.
  • How a person understands himself or herself.
  • Different cultures have different offset ages for
    infantile amnesia.

Reminiscence Bump
  • Memories of a persons life are dominated by
    those from around age 20.
  • Free-listing of autobiographical memories shows
  • Recency effect, standard forgetting curve into
    the past.
  • Bump between 15 and 25.

  • Cognitive view occurs because the memories
    around 20 are the first ones of their type, a
    primacy effect.
  • Life scripts may guide recall with positive life
    transitions around the bump times.
  • Neurological view people reach their peak at
    the bump time, declines after.
  • Identity formation view people decide who they
    are at that time in life with better connectivity.

Flashbulb Memories
  • Vivid memories with great detail, relatively
    resistent to forgetting
  • Challenger explosion, Princess Dis death, 9/11
  • Include memory for the context, not just event
  • Now Print! mechanism in neural coding
    original explanation but no support.
  • Normal memories, not special.

Accuracy of Flashbulb Memories
  • Because they are like normal memories,
    inaccuracies can creep in over time, they can be
  • Because they are emotionally charged, people
    believe they are more accurate.
  • The stronger the emotional reaction, the more the
    memory is believed.
  • Pearl Harbor example no baseball in Dec.

How are they Formed?
  • What we remember better is our reaction to the
    event, not the event itself.
  • Distinguishing qualities
  • The event must be novel (surprising) less
    likely to be affected by interference.
  • The event must have serious consequences for the
    person experiencing it.
  • An intensive emotional reaction must occur.

What Strengthens Them?
  • Emotionally intense events raise arousal which
    aids memorization.
  • More attention, more elaborative processing and
    more reminders lead to better recall.
  • Events are rehashed repeatedly, so more practice.
  • Knowledge is needed for elaboration.