You’re probably wondering why we are skipping to
this chapteron memory right at the beginning of the course. There are two major
reasons: First, research on memory provides an excellent example of how
psychology can be scientific even when studying something that is not directly
observable (e.g., memory). (The research on repressed/recovered memories and
false memory syndrome also illustrates what can happen when psychologists fail
to maintain a scientific attitude.) Second, in order to get anything out of this
course (or any other course), you will have to remember what you learn. I hope that by learning about memory
early on in this course, you will be able to apply these principles to
improving your own memory.
Key ideas and concepts in this chapter:
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The most popular model of memory for psychologists is
the Information Processing Model, which focuses on how people encode (form),
store, and retrieve (recall) memories. All three steps are important: if
you want to have a good memory, you have to be able to get information
into your memory (encoding), store it until you need it (which means you
have to get the information into long term memory if you want to be able
to remember it for more than 30 seconds), and retrieve it (find it in your
memory storage). Learning about memory processes will (hopefully) help
you to use your own memory more efficiently.
There must be some biological bases for memory. That
is, memories must be formed on the basis of changes somewhere in the brain.
There is no single place in the brain where memories are stored,
but there is clear evidence that changes in the efficiency of synapses
account for part of the biological basis of memory (Eric Kandel received
the 2000 Nobel Prize in Medicine for this work), and that brain areas such
as the hippocampus and cerebellum are crucial to formation of certain types
Research tells us that memories are not always accurate.
Just because we "remember" something does not mean that it happened that
way. Read about the research on "repressed" memories and false memory syndrome.
Evaluate your own study habits in the context of what
you learn about memory from this chapter. If necessary, revise your own
study habits to make your memory more efficient.