Weekly summary: March 23 – 26

PA photo 15.1.13 romanian orphans

This week we wrapped up memory by looking at how sociocultural factors can affect memory.  For this learning objective you should be able to:

  • Explain how cultural schema have an effect on memory (Bartlett).
  • Explain how schooling can have an effect on memory (Cole & Scribner)
  • Describe how Cole & Scribner used an emic approach.
  • Explain the role of stress of memory (Meany; Rutter’s orphan study)

Now we just have to discuss those things called emotions – and then it is stress until the end of the year….


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Weekly summary: March 16 – 20

This week we focused on the role of biological factors on memory. We specifically looked at the following examples:

  • Case studies and the role of the hippocampus & amygdala: Milner’s study of HM, Sharot’s study of Flashbulb memory.
  • The role of acetylcholine on the creation of long-term memories (Martinez & Kesner)
  • The role of glucocorticoids in memory impairment (Meany; Newcomer)

Thank you all for keeping focused while I was away.  I hope that this week we will be able to wrap up our study of memory and then move on to our next unit – Stress!

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Weekly summary: March 2 – 6

This week we examined the effect of emotion on memory – looking at research on reconstructive memory and the question of the reliability of so-called “Flashbulb Memories.” From this week, you should know  the following research:

Support for the reliability of memory:

  • Brown & Kulik’s original study.
  • Yuille & Cutshall’s Vancouver robbery study
  • Bahrick et al’s yearbook study

Support that memory is not reliable:

  • Bartlett’s War of Ghosts study.
  • Neisser’s study of the Challenger disaster
  • Crombag’s study of the KLM disaster
  • Loftus’s studies on reconstructive memory (post-event interference)

Please watch the video clip below.  This is the famous “Lost in the Mall Study” done by Elizabeth Loftus.

Next week we will wrap up Flashbulb memory by seeing if there is any biological evidence to support it.  Yes, biology is in your near future!

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Weekly summary: February 23 – 27


  • This week we returned to discuss our final memory model for this year – the Working Memory Model (Baddely & Hitch, 1974).  At this point, you should know the key components of the model: the central executive, the episodic buffer, the phonological loop and the visuospatial sketchpad. For a more in-depth explanation, here is a rather dry – but helpful – tutorial

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Weekly summary: February 9 – 13


This week we explored schema theory in a bit more depth.  At the end of this week, you should be able to:

  • State the definition of a schema.
  • Explain how schema play a role in how memories are retrieved.
  • Outline at least two studies that demonstrate the role of schema in memory.
  • Explain how biological research is used to support schema theory.
  • Evaluate the theory – that is, the strengths and limitations of the theory.

When we get back from break, one more memory model and then we start looking at how memory is distorted in a bit more detail.  Oh – and another IB essay is coming your way faster than you can guess….


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Weekly summary: February 2 – 6


This week we focused on Atkinson & Schiffrin’s Multi-store model.  At this point, you should be able to evaluate the model by using research to both support it and to challenge it.

Strengths and support for the model

  • The model broke memory into components that could be studied individually, opening up the field of memory research.
  • Miller’s study on STM
  • Glanzer & Cunitz’s study on Serial Positioning Effect – primacy (LTM) and recency (STM) effects
  • Studies of hippocampal impairment indicate that STM may be impaired by LTM remains intact. (e.g. HM)


  • Does not explain incidental learning
  • The model is considered overly simplistic. Is there really only one STM store? If so, how can we explain multi-tasking? And remember all those different types of LTM? Procedural, semantic, etc? Different types of strokes appear to impair different forms of LTM.
  • The model does not explain memory distortion.
  • The model also does not explain the role of emotion in the creation of memory or why we don’t remember something in spite of rigorous rehearsal.

Here is a good podcast that outlines the case study of HM. This is highly recommended (bordering on required) listening.

In addition we looked at the following:

  • The role of “depth of processing” – that is, emotion and context. You should be able to discuss Craik & Lockhart’s theory and its limitation
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Weekly summary: January 26 – 30

With me being gone and us wrapping up the SCLOA, the weekly summaries have gone a bit by the wayside. This week we started to look at memory theory.  Here are the things that you need to be able to talk about:

  • The cognitive level of analysis arose as a response to Behaviourism. You should be able to state and explain the  principles that we outlined in class.
  • Ebbinghaus was one of the earliest study of memory.  He tried to see how many words could be remembered if they were stripped of context.  He developed the idea of the forgetting curve.  He found that over time, we remember only 25% of what we learn.  Today this theory is largely discredit.  Be able to explain why.
  • Short-term memory is limited in capacity and time.  Miller found that STM capacity is 7 + or – 2, but can be expanded through a process called chunking.
  • We also started to look at the different types of memory.  Memory can either be implicit or explicit.  Also, memory can be declarative, procedural, or episodic (autobiographical, emotional).   Case studies of individuals with amnesia, or who have suffered from stroke, have helped us understand the different types of memory.
  • Early researchers searched for the engram.  Early researchers proposed the Theory of Equipotentiality – that is, memory is everywhere and nowhere. Today we talk about distributed memory.
  • Some memories may be localized.  One example is the ability to remember faces.  The inability to recall faces is prosopagnosia.
  • Finally, we started to look at what we do with our memories – we sharpen, level and assimilate.  This takes us into next week’s work on schema theory.

A lot to start, but we will be using many of these terms repeatedly in this unit.  For now, here is a video on memory which is rather intriguing.

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Individualism vs. collectivism

Here is a video to help you better understand individualism vs. collectivism.  Remember that individualism is based on the ideals of uniqueness, achievement and independence.  It includes ideas like:

  • It is important for me to be myself.
  • To know who I am, you must examine my achievements and accomplishments.
  • My personal happiness is more important to me than almost anything else.

Collectivism is based on the ideals of family, relationships with others and common fate.  It include ideas like:

  • My family is central to who I am.
  • It is important for me to respect the decisions of my family.
  • To know who I really am, you must see me with members of my group.
  • The history and heritage of my religious, national or ethnic group are a large part of who I am.

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