Chapter 7 and the corresponding lecture notes discuss a phenomenon known as flashbulb memories. For your initial post, submit a minimum of 2 paragraphs (3-5 sentences minimum each paragraph) summarizing your responses to the questions below. OR, you can simply number your answers. Don’t forget to engage with at least 2 of your classmates in a meaningful way so you can earn those precious Engagement points! Each peer response should be at least 1 paragraph (3-5 sentences minimum) in length.
1. Given what you read in Chapter 7 and the corresponding notes, how do you define flashbulb memory in your own words?
2. Identify and describe a flashbulb memory that you have for a national/historic event, sharing the major details that you can remember. Who were you with? What were you doing? How were you feeling? Any sights, sounds, smells that you can remember?
3. Identify and describe a flashbulb memory that you have for a personal event, sharing the major details that you can remember. Who were you with? What were you doing? How were you feeling? Any sights, sounds, smells that you can remember?*Note that this is a public forum so do not share anything with the group that you aren’t comfortable sharing!
What classifies as a national/historic event? Any major event that others in the class might also have memories for such as 9/11, a hurricane or other natural disaster, an election night, mass shootings, death of a celebrity, space launch, pandemic, verdicts of course cases that garnered national attention (e.g., O.J. Simpson, George Floyd, etc..), national protests, etc…
What classifies as a personal event? Any event that you experienced such as a birthday, wedding, funeral, car accident, graduation, special day, traumatic day, etc…
Tiffany Daniels, M.S.
Let’s Start With a Memory
• I’m going to read you a grocery list. Use
whatever memory strategies that you
think will be most effective to memorize
the items. When I am done, write down
as many items as you can remember.
You do not have to remember them in
• Memory – The retention of information
over time through the processes of
encoding, storage, & retrieval.
• Encoding – Process by which
information gets into memory storage
• Storage – Retention of information over
time and the representation of
information in memory.
• Retrieval – The memory process of
taking information out of storage.
• Requires selective attention
• Divided attention – occurs when a person
must attend to several things at once
• Selective/Sustained attention (focusing on
one thing for a prolonged period of time) is
better than divided attention in terms of
• Levels of Processing Model (Craik &
• Shallow level: The sensory of physical
features are analyzed.
• Intermediate level: The stimulus is
recognized and given a label.
• Deepest level: Information is processed
semantically, in terms of meaning.
“All I see is a bunch of ink on
this page! I’m so zoned out, I’m
not even making out the words!”
“I am reading the words but
I don’t understand it. I keep
reading the same line over
“Not only do I understand
what I just read, but I can
apply it to myself, create
examples, and even share
what I learned with a friend!”
• An individual’s memories are better if he or
she uses the deepest processing level.
• Memories are also better if using
elaboration when encoding.
• Elaboration: extensiveness of processing
at any given level of memory.
• Self-references, generating examples, and
using imagery are better than simple rote
• Flashcards are a type of rote memorization –
how effective are they in the long term?
• It is also important to be motivated to
• How easy is it to encode, store, and retrieve
information for your least favorite class?
• The Atkinson-Shiffrin Theory (1968)
• Storage involves 3 separate systems
• Sensory Memory: time frames of a fraction
of a second to several seconds
• Short-Term Memory (STM): time frames up
• Long Term Memory (LTM): time frames up
to a lifetime
• Iconic memory (visual sensory memory) –
we can remember things that quickly flash
before our eyes
• Echoic memory (auditory sensory memory)
– we can remember sounds after the fact,
even if we weren’t attending to them.
• Capacity is 7 ± 2 (called “Miller’s Magical
• Means we can usually remember on
average, between 5-9 items in a list
(example: phone numbers, Social Sec. #)
• Can improve short-term memory by using
rehearsal and chunking.
• Rehearsal- the process of repetitively
verbalizing or thinking about information.
• Chunking- grouping familiar stimuli
together that exceed the 7 ± 2 limit
(memory span) and storing them as a
• This saves space and allows for more
The Truffle Shuffle is NOT an example of Chunking, but it sure is fun
• Not 3-7-9-8-8-5-0
• But 379-8850 (Phone numbers)
• Not 3-2-5-5-6-8-9-3-2
• But 325- 56- 8932 (Social Security
• Recent research suggests that without
chunking & rehearsal, our true STM
capacity might only be 4 ± 1
Baddeley’s (2001) Working
• Baddeley views short term-memory as
more of a 3-part Working memory
• Temporarily holds information as people
perform cognitive tasks. (kind of like the
multiples windows you can have open at
once on your computer)
• Includes the phonological loop,
visuospatial working memory, and central
Baddeley’s Working Memory Model
• Phonological loop- speech-
based info about sounds of
• Visuospatial scratch pad
(aka visuospatial working
memory)- allows people to
temporarily hold and mentally
manipulate visual images.
Your visuospatial sketchpad is what helps you know
what the figure to the right of this caption is.
Baddeley’s Working Memory Model
• Central Executive: integrates information
not only from the phonological loop and
visuospatial scratch pad, but also from long-
term memory. Used in planning, attention,
• Relatively permanent type of memory that stores
huge amounts of information for a long time.
Includes explicit and implicit memory.
• Explicit memory – the conscious recollection of
information such as specific facts or events, and
at least in humans, information that can be
• Two types of explicit memory: episodic memory
and semantic memory.
• Episodic memory – retention of
information about the where, when, and
what of life’s happenings.
• Semantic memory – a person’s
knowledge about the world. Includes areas
of expertise, general knowledge like what
you learn in school, and everyday
knowledge such as meanings of words,
famous people, important places, etc.
• Label each memory with either an E or S:
1) The Eiffel Tower is located in Paris:_____
2) Visiting the Eiffel Tower on vacation:_____
3) Senior prom is a dance for 12th graders:_____
4) My first kiss:________
5) Wilhelm Wundt is the founding father of
6) The first time I attended psychology class:____
• Implicit memory – Memory in which
behavior is affected by prior experience
without that experience being consciously
• Includes procedural memory, classical
conditioning, and priming.
• Procedural memory – memory for skills
(how to ride a bike, brush your teeth, type
on the computer, drive a car)
• Classical conditioning – the automatic
learning of associations between stimuli.
**This type of learning involves
nonconscious, implicit memory
• Priming – a type of implicit memory
process involving the activation of
information that people already have in
storage to help them remember new
information better and faster.
• For example, let’s say I give you the
following cues, and you need to fill in the
blank to form a word.
• ho____ pe____ tr_____
In a study, individuals who had been primed
through the presentation of material
reflecting positive feelings are more likely
to subsequently fill in the blanks with the
words “hope” “peace” and “trust” rather
than neutral words such as “horn”
“peach” and “trout”
• In another study, people who were asked to find
aggressive words in a word find puzzle (such as
“rude,” “fight,” and “complain”) were more
likely to interrupt the experimenter following the
experiment than those who were presented with
positive words (such as polite, friendly, and
sensitive). Not only did the people presented
with positive words NOT interrupt, but they
lingered around for 10 minutes politely waiting
for the experimenter’s attention.
• Similarly, people presented with words in
a word find task such as “achieve” “win”
and “compete” are more likely to do
better on a later puzzle task than
individuals presented with neutral words.
• Clearly, priming can have a major impact
on our behavior and we don’t even
• Retrieval – the memory process
of taking information out of
storage. Very much dependent
on the circumstances under
which a memory was encoded
and the way it was retained.
• Let’s revisit our grocery list
• Serial position effect: the tendency to
recall the items at the beginning and end of
a list more readily than those in the middle
• Primacy effect – better recall for items at
the beginning of a list
• Recency effect – better recall for items at
the end of the list.
Serial Position Effect
• Beginning items
• Later items may
still be in
easier to recall
Job Interview Example
• Two other factors involved in retrieval are the
nature of the cues that can prompt your memory,
and the retrieval task that you set for yourself.
• Example Recall vs. Recognition
• Recall – individual has to retrieve previously
learned information (ex: essay test)
• Recognition: the individual only has to identify
learned items (ex: multiple choice tests)
• Generally individuals do better with recognition
vs. recall tasks.
• Encoding Specificity Principle:
Information present at the time of encoding
or learning tends to be effective as a
• Example: If you see me regularly teaching
this class, you will recognize me when you
walk in the door. However, if you see me at
a restaurant or bar, you might not recognize
me out of the context.
• Context-dependent memory – People remember
better when they attempt to recall information in
the same context in which they learned it.
• Based on this principle, it is best to sit in the
same classroom and same desk while learning
AND when taking the test. The desk can act as a
cue. “Ok, I was sitting right here when she talked
about learning, now what did she say about
• In one study, individuals learned
material either under water or on
land. Their performance was better
if they were recalling the material
in the same context in which they
encoded it. That is, individuals who
were under water while learning
performed best when they were
under water while recalling.
• State-dependent memory – people
remember information better when their
psychological state or mood is similar at
encoding and retrieval.
• Explains why those of you who have
anxiety during tests may not perform as
well. You were calm during encoding,
and stressed out during retrieval.
Special Cases of Retrieval
• Autobiographical memories
• Emotional/Flashbulb memories
• Traumatic Events
• Special form of episodic memory that
includes a person’s recollections of his or
her life experiences.
• Includes: life time periods (ex: the high
school years), general events (ex: senior
prom), and event-specific knowledge (ex:
my date was a jerk)
• Might not be entirely accurate – subject to
reconstruction with the passage of time.
• The memory of emotionally significant
events that people often recall more
accurately and vividly than everyday events
• Example: Can you remember exactly where
you were, what you were doing, on 9/11?
• Can be very accurate over time, however,
flashbulb memories are subject to distortion
based upon hearing others’ recollections of
the same events.
Memory for Traumatic Events
• “Can be so arousing emotionally as to
almost leave a scar on the brain’s
tissue” – William James
• Usually more accurate than memory for
ordinary events, however the memory
can be so traumatic that individuals may
distort the truth to protect themselves
• Repression – defense mechanism by which
a person is so traumatized by an event that
he or she forgets it and then forgets the act
of forgetting. Also called motivated
• Motivated forgetting – act of forgetting
something because it is so painful or
anxiety-laden that to remember it is
intolerable (ex: childhood sexual abuse,
rape, war crimes)
• The topic of repressed memories is still very
• Do repressed memories even exist?
• When a repressed memory comes to the surface
is it real or implanted?
• Should repressed memories be admissible in
• Elizabeth Loftus has
studies showing the
• The misinformation effect occurs when
participant’s recall of an event they witnessed
is altered by introducing misleading post-
• Example: Jean Piaget and the hero Nanny.
Jean Piaget and the Hero Nanny
• One day when Jean Piaget was a child his
nanny (he came from a wealthy family) took
him to the park. Hours later, they had not
returned and Jean’s parents phoned the
police. Shortly after, Jean and the Nanny
returned. The nanny noted that, while in
the park, a man had come and attempted to
kidnap Jean, and the nanny had fought the
man off and then hid till it was safe to come
Jean Piaget and the Hero Nanny
• His parents were extremely grateful and
rewarded the nanny. They frequently told
stories about her and the event, and Jean, as
he grew older, remembered and could recount
the man, the scratches on his face as the
nanny fought him off, and a police officer
coming to their aid. Years later, when he was
15, the nanny wrote a letter to Jean’s parents
to admit she had made the whole story up, and
had simply lost track of time but didn’t want to
lose her job. This story illustrates the fallibility
of human memory.
• Loftus would
pictures of a
and then ask
• Example: Did you see the stop sign clearly
• Many “eyewitnesses” will respond yes, as
the question leads you to believe there is
no question that the stop sign was there.
• In fact, if you take a second look, there
was no stop sign in the photo at all.
• Shows the imperfection of memory, and
What we have learned about
• Can contain errors
• Between 2000 – 10,000 people are wrongfully
convicted each year in the U.S. because of faulty
• People are less likely to recognize individual
differences among people of another ethnic group
when identifying criminals
• People often identify a member of another ethnic
group as the criminal when it was actually a
member of their own group (major bias).
So why do we forget?
• Failures in encoding or retrieval (or both!)
• Encoding failure – the information was never
entered into long-term memory.
• For example, without looking ahead in the notes,
can you describe the details of a penny? Which
way does Abe Lincoln face? Which side is the
date on? What (if anything) is written on the
opposite side of the date? What does it say at the
top of the penny? We see pennies everyday, but
some of us have never encoded them into long-
• Here is an example
of a real penny.
Did you remember
• What about the
Don’t Walk sign?
• Interference theory – people forget not
because memories are lost from storage but
because other information gets in the way of
what they want to remember. Retrieval cues
• Proactive interference – occurs when material
that was learned earlier disrupts the recall of
material learned later
• Retroactive interference – occurs when
material learned later disrupts the retrieval of
information learned earlier
• Let’s say you study for biology first,
psychology second, then take a psychology
test. You find it difficult to answer
questions on the psychology test because
you keep thinking about biology. This is
proactive interference (the interference is
moving forward in time)
• Let’s say you study psychology first,
biology second, then you take your
psychology test. The biology information is
going to interfere with the psychology
information when you are taking your test.
This is called retroactive interference
because new material affects what you
learned in the past (the interference is
moving backward in time)
• Another example of interference happens
when you are meeting new people.
• Tip-of-the Tongue Phenomenon – the
“effortful retrieval” that occurs when people
are confident that they know something but
cannot pull it out of memory.
• The retrieval cues are not strong enough.
We may only be able to remember what the
words starts with, or the number of syllables,
but we can’t retrieve the word itself.
Retrieval Failure –
• Whereas retrospective memory is
remembering the past, prospective
memory involves remembering to do
something in the future (ex: remembering to
go to an appointment)
• Time-based prospective memory – intention to
engage in a given behavior after a specified
amount of time has gone by (“In 20 minutes, I’m
going to take a break)
• Event-based prospective memory – intention to
engage in a given behavior when it is elicited by
some external event or cue (“When I see Gwen, I
need to give her a phone message)
• Research has shown that people aren’t very
good at time-based events. (for example,
they get involved with other tasks and forget
to perform the prospective task after 20
minutes have elapsed), and that event-
based cues are often produce more success
in prospective memory.
• Lesson learned here? Use a lot of post-its, a
calendar/planner, and tie strings around
your fingers 🙂
Retrieval Failure – Amnesia
• Amnesia – the loss of memory
• Retrograde Amnesia – A memory disorder
that involves memory loss for a segment of
the past but not for new events.
• Anterograde Amnesia – A memory
disorder that affects the retention of new
information and events
• The person loses memories for events that
occurred prior to the injury (mostly explicit
• Example: A person in a severe car accident
comes out of a coma, and the earliest thing they
can recall is one week before the accident
happened. In some cases, people can lose years,
even sometimes decades. Rare to have
absolutely NO idea of who you are.
• A person loses memories for
events that occur after the
• Essentially an inability to form
any new memories into Long-
• See: Memento (2000)
The Story of H.M.
• H.M. was a man who, in 1953, underwent a
bilateral hippocampectomy to help to relieve
the debilitating effects he was having from
• After surgery, H.M. completely lost the
ability to make new memories.
• In the movie “50 First Dates”, the character
Ten Second Tom is based off of H.M.
“Hi, I’m Tom!!!”
• N.A. was a soldier stationed in California.
He was studying quietly in his room when
his barracks roommate, an accomplished
fencer, came in and started practicing in
the room. N.A. got up just as his roommate
was thrusting forward, and the roommates
fencing foil went right up N.A.’s nose, and
into his brain, causing damage to the
Dorsomedial Nucleus of the Thalamus.
• Also experienced a profound amnesia.
• Ironically, this same type of incident
happened again recently to another case
in the literature.
• Moral of the story: Don’t ever
let fencers become your roommates J
• Pay Attention
• Minimize Interference and distractions
• Organize the material (ex: Hierarchies)
• Generate examples
• Test Yourself
• Learn by Teaching
• Mnemonic devices: Method of
Loci, Keyword Method,
• Use these strategies frequently, not just
the night before the test!
• Be rested, well-nourished, calm, and sober
while learning the material and during the
You can wake up
now! Class is over!