The_seven_sins_of_memory - The seven sins of memory 1:...

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The seven sins of memory 1: Transience What is it? Gradual loss of memory. Memory is lost/diminishes over time. Both in STM and LTM. Why is it a sin? It’s is a by-product of an adaptive system property: It’s often useful to forget old and outdated information that is not relevant any more (to be able to act appropriately). It can also be useful to be able to forget unwanted thoughts that were memorized involuntarily. The sin is, that we either lose too much information or things that we might need later. Which is, when we realize the transience of memory. What’s the empirical evidence? Empirical evidence dates back to Ebbinghaus (1885) who showed that forgetting is a (power)-function of time. The rate of forgetting slows down with the passage of time. To date, it’s unclear, what causes this sin, probably a mixture of decay, interference and overwriting, with an emphasis on the latter two. The causes of transience seem to be different for STM as opposed to LTM. Structures in the medial temporal lobe seem to be the basis of LTM, while structures in left parietal and left inferior prefrontal cortex seem to be the seat of working memory (STM). What’s an example? There are many possible examples. Being unable to remember information that one encoded a couple of years ago, forgetting a phone number that one just looked up, etc. 2: Absent-mindedness What is it? This refers to a failure of attention, either at the encoding stage or at the retrieval stage. Why is it a sin? It´s an adaptive feature of memory to encode information selectively, particularly useful information, while trying to avoid to store useless details. It´s also adaptive to be able to move attention around quickly or to be able to divide it. It becomes a sin, if we are unable to direct the attention to the things that we will need to remember later or if we encode relevant things on a level that is too shallow for long term retention. What’s the empirical evidence?
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This note was uploaded on 04/28/2008 for the course PSY 301 taught by Professor Pennebaker during the Summer '07 term at University of Texas at Austin.

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The_seven_sins_of_memory - The seven sins of memory 1:...

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