Okay. So let’s talk about
Now, the process of encoding
information is fairly complicated
and we do it fairly automatically.
Well, we’re going to walk through all the
different steps that are involved with that.
So encoding is a process of transferring
sensory information into a construct
and then storing that
into our memory system.
So we’re making this sound
but basically what
we’re saying here is
we get information from the
environment around us,
we turn that into a construct
or some way to store that,
and then we put it into
our memory system.
So think of it as a, you know, we
all relate to computers these days.
Everybody is on their computer,
you’re on one right now, probably.
And so when you have a file, that’s
information that you’ve taken.
And you’ve put it into a file and
you have to save that file.
So we’ll try and kind of relate back
and forth to a computer very often
because I think it makes sense
for us to understand that way.
Now, so we take that information,
that sensory information,
we form a construct, and then
we store it in our memory.
So that would be working memory.
Now, working memory stores information for
immediate use as part of a mental activity.
So when we’re actually doing a task,
we’re learning for
the first time,
or you’re trying to grasp something and I’m
just teaching you right now as we speak.
That’s going and it’s sitting in
a place called working memory
that allows us to do
what we need to do.
And then, it’s going to go --
it’s going to go somewhere
else after that
and depending where it goes depends
on what we’re going to do with it.
So we’ll talk about
that in a sec.
So working memory can include
things like the phonological loop,
visuospatial sketchpad, the central
executive, and episodic buffer.
So phonological loop is,
if I ask you to remember,
you know, the numbers
8, 14, 36, and 22.
So you’re going to say 8, 14 -- and you
just say it in your mind over and over.
So phonological is referring
to you verbalizing it
sort of whether it’s internal
verbalization or you actually say it
and you say it over and over
and over and over and over.
That’s how you remember phone numbers,
people’s addresses, even names.
It’s just, you know, "his name is Terry,
his name is Terry, his name is Terry,"
and then when you go to meet them, “Oh, hi.
How are you, Terry,”
and you speak as you remember --
trying to remember their name.
A visuospatial sketchpad is you, in your
mind, kind of drafting out something.
So you’re like, “Oh, yeah, the table
-- the chair was rounded like this
and it had the four legs. Got it,” and
you have that drawing in your mind.
Now, this allows for manipulation
and organization of the information
within the working memory,
also allows you to
achieve whatever task
you’re trying to do,
and then eventually it’s going to go
to a place where we can store it,
which is short-term memory.
That can then go on to long-term
memory later on if we so desire.
Now, we’re going to talk about
some of the different things
that we notice when we’re encoding
and recalling information.
The first phenomenon is something
called the serial position effect.
That’s the tendency to recall
the first and last items
in a series or a list
better than the middle.
So if I gave you ten different
animals to remember,
chances are you’re going
to remember the first few,
so, lion, tiger, blah, blah, blah,
blah, blah, zebra, giraffe.
You’re going to remember the first two and
you’re going to forget the blah, blah part
and you’re also going to usually
remember the last ones.
So why is that? Why
does that happen?
So it’s called the primacy effect,
which is a cognitive bias
that results in a subject recalling
the first items on a list.
That’s the first phenomenon.
And the theory is because
those are the items that
you’ve had the most time to
sort of process and encode
and some of them may have already been
transferred to some form of memory,
whether it’s long-term,
or the working, or short.
It’s now transitioned into being in your
mind and it’s been there the longest.
So, the ones in the middle really
haven’t gone into that point yet.
They might still be stuck
in the phonological loop
or in the area where it’s
not really fully set yet.
And then the recency effect is the stuff
that we’re remembering on the end.
The theory there is these
items are still in the loop
or are fresh in the loop
so are highly accessible.
So things that go in the
phonological loop or the sketchpad
we all know don’t last forever.
So if ask you to remember
ten numbers or ten animals,
for the first little bit you’re pretty good.
“Yeah, I got them all, I got them all.”
You wait a few minutes and everything that
was in that phonological loop is gone,
except for maybe the first
few and the last few.
So that we say what happens
to recall if you wait?
And again, the stuff in the
middle is the first to go
and you can start to remember --
you can still sometimes remember the
earlier -- earlier points on that list
and the last points, so, the
primacy and the recency
Now, what are the things that you can
do to help yourself remember, right?
So we have things called mnemonics.
So the M here is silent.
Mnemonic is a technique for improving
retention and retrieval from memory.
So there are a lot of
different things you can do.
The most obvious that is innate that I think
we just do automatically is rehearsal.
So that’s the use of
you say things over and over
and over and over and over.
You know, you meet a cute guy and
you try to remember his name
and you’re like, “I don’t
want to forget it”
or you don’t want to forget his
phone number or his email address
and you say it over and
over and over and over.
Now, another thing that is unique
is something called chunking.
That’s a strategy which organizes
information into discrete groups of data.
So you might have a list
and so you’re trying to say, “Well,
why don’t I chunk those into --
these are all the birds and in the birds
I know there’s a list of four things
and then there is also
types of wild cats
and there’s also, you know,
different types of fish.”
And so now by categorizing them
or chunking them into pieces,
it makes a little bit easier to remember.
And when we get back to
the phonological loop,
the recall we now realize is
roughly around seven digits,
so if your number
is beyond seven,
you have to start
chunking it and you’ll
remember this in the way
you actually recite it.
So say your phone -- you know,
your phone number is --
got ten digits
and you have a 613-731-1414.
So now the actual
numbers would be longer
than you can keep in
your phonological loop.
So what did I just do even how I was
reciting, it was I chunked them.
You go three, you know,
three, three and four.
So you can say, “Six-one-three,”
and you remember that as a chunk
and you can say “Seven-three-one,
And how am I saying that?
I’m not saying,
I’m saying, “Fourteen, fourteen,” because
I’ve chunked them into different groups.
So that makes it a little
bit more manageable,
makes it easier for you
to encode that memory.
Now, hierarchies are things that organizes
words and information into categories
just like I said with the types
of birds, types of cats,
and that makes it a little bit easier
because now you’re recalling that category,
and then within the category
you can have your stuff,
as opposed to saying,
“Animals,” which is everything.
Now, the depth of perception,
so, the deeper level,
semantic content leads
to better recall,
so, the more that you
can associate with in
terms of how you’ve
processed that information.
So you know, you’ve heard people say, “Well,
really focus, you’ll remember better.”
There’s some actual truth to that.
So really paying attention to
what you’re doing at that moment
and even adding semantic
content, so, things like,
“Oh, yeah, on that Wednesday, it
was five o’clock and it was sunny.
Do you remember? You --
that -- that girl’s name?”
“Oh, yeah, her name is Rebecca.
because you’ve added all that semantic
content and that really helped.
Acronym is another great one.
So, you know, we use these all
the day, AIDS, CD-ROM, FAQs
for those frequently asked questions,
acquired immunodeficiency syndrome.
Geez, you’re studying for the MCAT,
so it’s all about abbreviations
in science, neuroscience, biology.
All you have is abbreviations.
So acronyms are ways
to help you remember.
I think the only downfall
is sometimes we forget
what the acronym originally stood
for, but it does make it easier.
Now, we have the dual
and this indicates that it’s
easier to remember words
with associated images than
if either -- either alone.
So if you have just the word “banana,”
you remember that word
banana if you can,
and then if you were to compare that to
me showing you an image of the banana
and then saying the word “banana,”
you will recall that much more.
And the reason being is that you’ve
made more connections into the memory
and there’s more content,
and so it’s deeper.
That’s what we meant
by deeper content,
is there’s more there for me
to kind of hang my hat on.
Oh, yeah, I see it. Visually, I see it.
I remember it. I see the word.
I’ve made that
There’s a lot of
ways to slice that,
but now I’ve layered it a lot more into
my memory versus just the word “banana.”
There’s another thing called
method of loci or loci,
depending on how you
like to pronounce it,
and this involves imagining
moving through a familiar place
or having stops or loci or loci.
say for example you are trying to
remember your route home from a hotel
to a sporting event when
you’re in a weird city
that you don’t know
the area very well.
So as you’re walking from your
hotel to the sporting event,
you walk by and you say, “Oh, yeah, there’s
that cute store with the shoes. Okay,”
and you keep going and say, “Oh, look
at that really neat looking tree.”
Then you keep going and you say, “Oh,
look at that dog with three legs,”
and then you get to the sporting
event, you enjoy yourself,
and now you’re going
to walk your way back.
And so, you go back looking at some of
those things that you picked out --
the physical locations or the loci and
you say, “Oh, yeah, there’s that --
there’s that weird dog with the three
legs and there’s that really cool shop.”
And so you know that you’re
kind of remembering things.
So this again provides a
and it’s also known as
the journey method.
Now, if we’re not talking about
actual physical mapping yourself
and you’re trying
to learn things,
you can still do this the same way
if you’re trying to encode memories.
And you may, again, have heard
this technique before where you
can say if you’re trying to
remember five things on a list.
For each thing, tie it to something
that means something to you.
if you’re doing a list of animals, you
know, and the first on the list is cat.
So you know cat. “Okay, I have a cat
and the cat’s name is Mittens.”
Okay, next. The next animal is snake.
“Oh, I hate snakes. I got bitten by
a snake once. Remember that? Yeah.”
Next, monkey. “Oh, remember
that time I fed the monkey
and the monkey got sick and threw up?
And in your mind
you’re doing this
and you’re creating a journey based on
things that means something to you.
Now, recall, you can go back and say,
“Okay, I talked about, yeah, I remember
the monkey. There’s a monkey on the list.
I hate snakes, I have a cat.”
And so you’re able to,
again, add those tags,
make it a deeper representation, and
your recall will be much better.
Self-reference effect involves
making new info personally relevant.
And same thing, you can
talk about anything.
“What’s the name of the street? Beatrice.
Wait, hey, I have an aunt named Beatrice,”
or so on and so on.
You relate whatever it is
you’re trying to remember
to something that’s personally driven and
has some personal context to yourself.