Weekly summary: March 31 – April 4

This week we wrapped up memory and started a discussion of emotion.  We looked at some research on happiness and finally wrote down a definition of emotion.  Here is a good video to get you ready for next week’s classes.  The final class for the CLOA and the winding down to April break.  Yahoo!


Weekly summary: March 24 – 28


This week we looked at socio-cultural effects on memory. And it seems that we spent a lot of time in Guatemala.  Above is a picture of Antigua – one of my favorite places in Guatemala.

We looked at four key areas.  You should know two of them for the exam.

  • The role of education.  For this week looked at the study by Cole & Scribner on Liberian children.
  • The role of lifestyle.  Roggoff & Waddell’s study on Mayan children who interact with their environment.
  • The role of deprivation.  In addition to the Meaney study, we also talked about Rutter’s study of the Romanian orphans.
  • The role of poverty.  The study by Pollit on the role of diet on cognitive skills.

One of the things you should realize this week is that environmental factors affect biological processes that affect memory.  This demonstrates the true interaction of the levels of analysis and why one level of analysis is rarely enough to explain a person’s behaviour.

Weekly summary: March 18 – 21

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: Milner’s study of HM and MacGuire’s taxi cab study.
  • The role of acetylcholine on the creation of long-term memories (Martinez & Kesner)
  • The role of glucocorticoids in memory impairment (Meany)

Here is a good video that outlines how memory works.

Weekly summary: March 9 – 14

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:

  • Brown & Kulik’s original study.  What is the key limitation of this study?
  • McGaugh & Cahill’s support for FBM. (Remember, their study had two parts – the second version involved injecting the participants with beta blockers to see if they would be able to recall details in the highly emotional setting.  They could not).
  • Berntsen & Thomsen (2005) study on Danish war veterans (homework reading)
  • Neisser’s study of the Challenger disaster as a challenge to the concept of Flashbulb Memories
  • Crombag’s study of the KLM disaster – an example of post-event interference
  • Loftus’s studies on reconstructive memory (THE study of post-event interference)


Weekly summary: March 3 – 7

This week we wrapped up our studies of working memory and outlined our upcoming essay “compare and contrast two models of one cognitive process.”  In addition, we began discussion of the reconstructive nature of memory.  At the end of this week you should be able to:

  • Explain what is meant by the “reconstructive nature of memory.”
  • Discuss some of the problems of eye-witness testimony – for example, confabulation, post-event information and the difficulties of estimation.
  • Describe the studies done by Loftus & Palmer on post-event information and the Lost in the Mall study by Loftus.

Take a look at this video on working memory.  Rather interesting….


Weekly summary: February 24 – 28



A very quick week with only one class together thanks to MUN and my absence on Friday.  We wrapped up the MSM by looking at its strengths and limitations.  Here is a reminder of our discussion:

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.


  • 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 reconstructive memory.
  • 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.

Then we discussed the working memory model. Here are some key points.

  • The Central Executive – the ‘manager’ of working memory. Is able to store a very limited amount of information for a very limited time, but its main role is to control attention and coordinate the slave systems (phonological loop and visual spatial scratchpad).
  • Visual spatial sketchpad  – has a limited capacity and processes visual information in its component form, e.g. as shape, colour, and size. Evidence suggests that we use the sketchpad to manipulate images in our head.
  • Phonological loop – also has a limited capacity and processes auditory information e.g. speech, music, etc. It is made up of two parts: the Phonological store (inner ear) – auditory information enters memory here but can only be stored for around 2 seconds if not passed through the articulatory loop – and the Articulatory loop (inner voice) – Auditory information is rehearsed here subvocally (silently) in order to be remembered.

Research evidence

  • Evidence for the existence of different parts of memory for processing different types of task – Baddeley (1986) asked participants to remember a list of numbers whilst carrying out a verbal reasoning task (e.g. BA – A follows B – true or false?) If STM is a unitary (single store) as proposed by the multi-store model, and has a capacity of around 7, then as task 1 reached 7 digits there would be no capacity left to carry out task 2. In fact this was not the case. Both tasks could be performed at the same time.
  • Evidence for the phonological loop – This store appears to hold the number of words you can say in two seconds so as a result we are able to rehearse and recall more short words than we can long words because it takes longer to rehearse ‘articulatory’ than it does ‘loop’ for example (the word length effect). However if participants are given an articulatory suppression task, e.g. saying ‘la, la, la…’ (which fills the phonological loop), neither short words nor long words can be rehearsed and both tasks suffer (e.g. Baddeley et al 1975)

Next week we will look at comparing and contrasting the two models and then move into the question of the reconstructive nature of memory.