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Cognitive Psychology Ch 4-7: Attention and Memory


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Selective Attention
The skill through which one pays attention to one input or one task, while ignoring other stimuli that are also on the scene.
Divided Attention
The skill of performing multiple tasks simultaneously.
A task in which research participants are required to repeat back a verbal input, word for word, as they hear.
Attended Channel
In selective attention experiments, research participants are exposed to simultaneous inputs and instructed to ignore all of these except one. The ________ is the input to which participants are instructed to pay attention.
Unattended Channel
A stimulus (or group of stimuli) that a person is not trying to perceive. Ordinarily, little information is understood or remembered from the _______.
Dichotic Listening
A task in which participants hear two simultaneous verbal messages-- one presented via headphones to the left ear, a second presented to the right ear. In typical experiments, participants are asked to pay attention to one of these inputs (the attended channel) and ignore the other.
Cocktail Party Effect
Can hear your name or information relevant to you even while focused on another conversation.
A hypothetical mechanism that would block potential distractors from further processing.
Fixation Target
A visual mark (such as a dot or a plus sign) at which one points one's eyes; used to help people control their eye position.
Inattentional Blindness
A pattern in which perceivers seem literally not to see visual stimuli right in front of their eyes; this pattern is caused by the participants' attending to some other stimulus and not expecting the target to appear.
Muller-Lyer Illusion
Two lines that are the same lenghth. Arrows attached to them point in for one and out for the other. The line with outward arrows seems longer.
Change Blindness
A pattern in which perceivers either do not see, or take a long time to see, large-scale changes in a visual stimulus. This pattern reveals how little we perceive, even from stimuli in plain view, if we are not specifically attending to the target information.
Response Time
The amount of time (usually measured in milliseconds) needed for a person to respond to a particular event (such as a question, or a cue to press a specific button).
Limited-Capacity System
A group of processes in which resources are limited, so that extra resources supplied to one process must be balanced by a withdrawal of resources somewhere else, so that the total resources expended do not exceed some limit.
Spatial Attention
The mechanism through which we allocate processing resources to particular positions in space, so that we more efficiently process any inputs from that region in space.
Early Selection
A proposal that selective attention operates at an early stage of processing, so that the unattended inputs receive little analysis.
Late Selection
A proposal that selective attention operates at a late stage of processing, so that the unattended inputs receive considerable analysis.
Response Selector
A (hypothesized) mental resource needed for the selection and initiation of a wide range of responses, including overt responses (eg moving in a particular way) and covert responses (eg initiating a memory search).
A process through which one rapidly switches attention from one task to another, creating the appearance of doing two things at the same time.
Executive Control
The mental resources and processes used to set goals, choose task priorities, and avoid conflict among competing habits or responses.
Controlled Tasks
Novel tasks or tasks that require considerable flexibility in one's approach.
Automatic Tasks
Tasks that are highly familiar and do not require great flexibility.
A state achieved by some tasks and some forms of processing, in which the task can be performed with little or not attention. These actions can, in many cases, be combined with other activities without interference. They are also often difficult to control, leading many to refer to them as "mental reflexes."
Stroop Interference
A classic demonstration of automaticity in which people are asked to name the color of ink used to print a word, and the word itself is a different color name. For example, research participants might see the word "yellow" printed in blue ink and be required to say "blue." Considerable interference is observed in this task, with participants apparently unable to ignore the word's content, even though it is irrelevant to their task.
The process of placing new information into long-term memory.
The state in which a memory, once aquired, remains dormant until it is retrieved.
The process of locating information in memory and activating that information for use.
Information Processing
A particular approach to theorizing in which complex mental events, such as learning, remembering, and deciding, are understoodas being built up out of a large number of discrete steps. These steps occur one by one, with each providing as its "output" the input to the next step in the sequence.
Information-Processing Components
Separate events or processes within information processing.
Modal Model
A nickname for a specific conception of the "architecture" of memory. In this model, working memory serves both as the storage site for material now being contemplated, and also the "loading platform" for long-term memory. Information can reach working memory through the processes of perception, or it can be drawn from long-term memory. Once in working memory, material can be further processed, or it can simply be recycled for subsequent use.
Short-Term Memory
An older term for what is now called working memory.
Working Memory
The storage system in which information is held while that information is being worked on. All indications are that ____ is a system, and not a single entity, and that information is held here via active processes, not via some sort of passive storage. Formerly called "short-term memory."
Long-Term Memory
The storage system in which we hold all of our knowledge and all of our memories. ____ contains memories that are not currently activated; those that are activated are represented in working memory.
Free Recall
A method of assessing memory. The person being tested is asked to come up with as many items as possible from a particular source (such as "the list you heard earlier" or "things you saw yesterday") in any sequence.
Primacy Effect
An often-observed advantage in remembering the early-presented materials within a sequence of materials. This advantage is generally attributed to the fact that one can focus attention on these items, because, at the beginning of a sequence, one is obviously not trying to divide attention between these items and other items in the series.
Recency Effect
The tendency to remember materials that occur late in a series.
Serial Position
A data pattern summarizing the relationship between some performance measure (often, likelihood of recall) and the order in which the test materials were presented. In memory studies, the ____ curve tends to be U-shaped, with people best able to recall the first-presented items (the primacy effect) and also the last-presented items (the recency effect).
Memory Rehearsal
Any mental activity that has the effect of maintaining information in working memory. Two types of rehearsal are often distinguished: maintenance rehearsal and elaborative rehearsal.
Digit-Span Task
A task often used for measuring working memory's storage capacity. Participants are read a series of digits (e.g. "8 3 4") and must immediately repeat them back. If they do this successfully, they are given a slightly longer list (e.g. "9 2 4 0), and so forth. The length of the longest list a person can remember is that person's ____.
7 Plus-or-Minus 2
A number often offered as an estimate of the holding capacity of working memory.
The hypothetical storage unit in working memory; it is estimated that working memory can hold 7 plus or minus 2 chunks. An unspecified quantity of information can be contained within each chunk, since the content of each chunk depends on how the memorizer has organized the materials to be remembered.
Operation Span
A measure of working memory's capacity. This measure turns out to be predictive of performance in many other tasks, presumably because these tasks all rely on working memory.
Central Executive
The hypothesized director of the working-memory system. This is the component of the system needed for any interpretation or analysis; in contrast, mere storage of materials can be provided by working memory's assistants, which work under the control of the ____.
Visuospatial Buffer
One of the low-level assistants used as part of the working-memory system. This buffer plays an important role in storing visual or spatial representations, including visual images.
Rehearsal Loop
One of the low-level assistants, hypothesized as part of the working-memory system. This loop draws on subvocalized (covert) speech, which serves to create a record in the phonological buffer. Materials in this buffer than fade, but they can be refreshed by another cycle of covert speech, with this cycle initiated by working memory's central executive.
Covert speech, in which one goes through the motions of speaking, or perhaps forms a detailed motor plan for speech movements, but without making any sound.
Phonological Buffer
A passive storage device that serves as a part of the articulatory rehearsal loop. The phonological buffer serves as part of the mechanisms ordinarily needed for hearing. In rehearsal, however, the buffer is loaded by means of subvocalization. Materials within the buffer than fade, but they can be refreshed by new covert speech, under the control of the central executive.
A pattern of responding in which one produces the same response over and over, even though one knows that the task requires a change in response. This pattern is often observed in patients with brain damage in the frontal lobe.
Maintenance Rehearsal
A rote, mechanical process, in which items are continually cycled through working memory, merely by being repeated over and over. Also called "item-specific rehearsal," and often contrasted with elaborative rehearsal.
Relational/Elaborative Rehearsal
A way of engaging materials to be remembered, such that one pays attention to what the materials mean and how they are related to each other, or to other things in the surroundings, or to other things one already knows. Often contrasted with maintenance rehearsal.
Shallow Processing
A mode of thinking about material in which one pays attention only to appearances and other superficial aspects of the material; ______ typically leads to poor memory retention. Often contrasted with deep processing.
Incidental Learning
Learning that takes place in the absence of any intention to learn and, correspondingly, in the absence of any expectation of a subsequent memory test.
Intentional Learning
The acquisition of memories in a setting in which people know that their memory for the information will be tested later.
Deep Processing
A mode of thinking about material in which one pays attention to the meaning and implications of the material; ____ typically leads to excellent memory retention.
Retrieval Paths
A connection (or series of connections) that can lead to a sought-after memory in long-term storage.
Mnemonic Strategies
A technique designed to improve memory accuracy, and to make learning easier; in general, ____ seek in one fashion or another to help memory by imposing an organization on the materials to be learned.
Peg-Word Systems
A type of mnemonic strategy using words or locations as "pegs" on which one "hangs" the materials to be remembered.
State-Dependent Learning
A phenomenon in which learning seems linked to the person's mental, emotional, or biological state during the learning. As a result of this linkage, the learning is most likely to show its effects when the person is again in that mental, emotional, or biological state.
Context Reinstatement
A procedure in which someone is led to the same mental and emotional state they were in during some previous event; ____ can often promote accurate recollection.
Encoding Specificity
The tendency, when memorizing, to place in memory both the materials to be learned and also some amount of the context of those materials. As a result, these materials will be recognized as familiar, later on, only if the materials appear again in a similar context.
The task of memory retrieval in which the rememberer must come up with the desired materials, sometimes in response to a cue that names the context in which these materials were earlier encountered ("Name the pictures you saw earlier") sometimes in response to a question that requires the sought-after information ("Name a fruit," or "What is the state capital of California?")
The task of memory retrieval in which the items to be remembered are presented and the person must decide whether or not the item was encountered in some earlier circumstance. Thus, for example, one might be asked, "Have you ever seen this person before?" or "Is this the poster you saw in the office yesterday?"
Source Memory
A form of memory that allows one to recollect the episode in which learning took place, or the time and place in which a particular stiumulus was encountered.
Lexical-Decision Task
A test in which participants are shown strings of letters and must indicate, as quickly as possible, whether each string of letters is a word in English or not. It is supposed that people perform this task by "looking up" these strings in their "mental dictionary."
Word-Stem Completion
A task in which people are given the beginning of a word (e.g. "TOM") and must provide a word that starts with the letters provided. In some versions of the task, only one solution is possible, and so performance is measured by counting the number of words completed. In other versions of the task, several solutions are possible for each stem, and performance is assessed by determining which of the responses fulfill some other criterion.
Explicit Memories
A memory revealed by direct memory texting, and typically accompanied by the conviction that one is remembering a specific prior episode.
Direct Memory Testing
A form of memory testing in which people are asked explicitly to remember some previous event.
Implicit Memories
A memory revealed by indirect memory testing usually manifest as priming effects in which current performance is guided or facilitated by previous experiences. ___ are often accompanied by no conscious realization that one is, in fact, being influenced by specific past experiences.
Indirect Memory Testing
A form of memory testing in which research participants are not told that their memories are being tested. Instead, they are tested in a fasion in which previous experiences can influence current behavior. Examples of indirect tests include word-stem completion, the lexical-decision task, and tachistoscopic recognition.
Illusion of Truth
An effect of implict memory in which claims that are familiar end up seeming more plausible.
Source Confusion
A memory error in which one misremembers where a bit of information was learned, or where a particular stimulus was last encountered.
Processing Fluency
An improvement in the speed or ease of processing that results from prior practice in using those same processing steps.
Process-Pure Task
A task that relies on only a single mental process. If tasks are ____, then we can interpret the properties of task performance as revealing the properties of the underlying process. If tasks are not ____, however we cannot interpret performance as revealing the properties of a specific process.
A broad inability to remember events within a certain category, due in many cases to brain damage.
Retrograde Amnesia
An inability to remember experiences that occurred before the event that triggered the memory disruption.
Anterograde Amnesia
An inability to remember experiences that occurred after the event that triggered the memory disruption.
Korsakoff's Syndrome
A clinical syndrome characterized primarily by dense anterograde amnesia. ____ is caused by damage to specific brain regions, and it is often precipitated by a form of malnutrition common among long-term alcoholics.
Double Dissociation
An argument used by researchers to prove that two processes, or two structures, are truly distinct. To make this argument, one can be disrupted without in any way interfering with the other.
Deese-Roediger-McDermott (DRM)
A commonly used experimental procedure for eliciting and studying memory erros. In this procedure, a person sees or hears a list of words that are all related to a single theme; however, the word that names the theme is not itself included. Nonetheless, people are very likely to remember later that the theme word was presented.
Generic Knowledge
Knowledge of a general sort, as opposed to knowledge about specific episodes.
A pattern of knowledge describing what is typical or frequent in a particular situation. For example, a "kitchen ____" would stipulate that a stove and refrigerator are likely to be present, whereas a coffeemaker may or may not be present, and a piano is likely not to be present.
Retention Interval
The amount of time that passes between the initial learning of some material and the subsequent memory retrieval of that material.
The hypothesis that, with the passage of time, memories may fade or erode.
The hypothesis that materials are lost from memory because of interference from other materials also in memory. ____ is caused by materials learned prior to the learning episode is called "proactive ____," ____ that is caused by materials learned after the learning episode is called "retroactive ___."
Retrieval Failure
A mechanism that probably contributes to a great deal of forgetting. ___ occurs when a memory is, in fact, in long-term storage, but one is unable to locate that memory when trying to retrieve it.
False Memories
A memory, sincerely reported, that misrepresents how an event actually unforlded. In some cases, a false memory can be wholly false, and report and event that never happened at all.
Misinformation Effect
An effect in which research participants' reports about an earlier event are influenced by misinformation they received after experiencing the event. in the extreme, ____ can be used to create false memories concerning an entire event that, in truth, never occurred.
Autobiographical Memory
The aspect of memory that records the episodes and events in a person's life.
Self-Reference Effect
The tendency to have better memory for information relevant to one's self than for other sorts of material.
Flashbulb Memories
A memory of extraordinary clarity, typically for some highly emotional event, retained despite the passage of many years.
A hypothesized state in which individual memories are held in storage forever.

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