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Memory

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Memory refers to the process involved in acquiring, storage, retaining and retrieval of information.  The memory process entails three steps, namely; encoding, storing and retrieval. The encoding process involves conversion of information into usable forms; the storage process entails preservation of information for later use. The retrieval process converts the stored memories into a conscious awareness. Numerous psychological approaches have been advanced to explain the memory process. Some of the models describe the stages of memory as sensory memory, short-term memory, and long-term memory. It may be an integral part of the human existence; yet, the subject may be vaguely understood. Empirical studies on the human beings, the field of cognitive psychology has proposed useful descriptions, theoretical advances and distinctions.

This paper analyses some of the studies conducted on this perspective. Some of the conceptual approaches in understanding the subject in cognitive psychology may be summarized. The first study will explore false believes, it will focus on the notion that false believes could lead to negative behavioral consequences (Gererts et al., 2007). The second study will demonstrate the ripple effect in memories: judgment of moral blame could alter memory for events. It would be shown that information about an agent could lead to an alteration in memory for details of the act (Pizarro et al. 2006). The third research study explores how self-relevant imaginations affect memory for behavior; it will demonstrate that imagination could impair an individual’s ability to recall originally reported behavior (Thomas et al. 2006). The forth research study demonstrates how encoding modality may affect memory accuracy through retrieval orientation; it will show that retrieval orientation might be enough to instigate a modality effect upon memory accuracy through focusing the monitoring process on the recollection of studied properties that may be diagnostic to the previous presentation (Pierce 2011). The fifth study shows that self-generated retrievals when multitasking would improve the memory for names (Helder 2008). The sixth study explores proustian memories; it will demonstrate that odour cues could retain a distinctive connection to remote past (Miles 2011).

Summaries

Lasting False Believes and the Resultant Behavioral Consequences.

Studies may be conducted about false beliefs and memories. These beliefs could affect people’s attitudes in both the long and short term. However, the conspicuous question is; could they effect true changes in behavior? Significant real-life examples of forgetting the past could be the individuals may falsely recover memories of sexual abuse while in their childhood, regularly instigated by indicative therapeutic techniques (Gererts et al., 2007). A study would be conducted to investigate whether behavior change would affect both shortly, and four months after, by falsely suggesting to people that they had experienced food related disorder during childhood. In this study, 180 subjects would be made to believe that as children, they had experienced illness because of eating egg salad. Results would later show that a large minority of subjects, having denied it initially, came to believe that they had experienced the childhood event. The newly realized autobiographical belief among the subjects would later be accompanied by avoidance of egg salads, and a significant reduction in the consumption of egg salad sandwich both instantly and four months after the suggesting falsely to them. This study showed that false suggestions about a forgotten childhood event could lead to constant false beliefs that impose long-term behavioral consequences.

A discussion could ensue in this topic in that though it might have been conspicuous that false beliefs could trigger behavioral changes among subjects, it would be crucial for future studies to note that false suggestions could also trigger a true experience in the childhood. For this reason, further research on false beliefs should consider imploring upon the subjects past life, perhaps through interviewing their parents first. On the other hand, the aspect of having subjects to change their behavior characteristics both in the long-term and short-term could have a positive implication on dieting. In fact, the aspect could be manipulated to achieve healthy lifestyles; researchers seeking to lower the obesity levels should consider this to be an option to the permanent solution.

The ripple effect in memories: judgment of moral blame could alter memory for events.

A regular question in studies of memory could be whether judging a person as being guilty of offense could affect memory for facts of the act. Information concerning an agent could result to an alteration in memory for related particulars of an event. Pizarro et al. (2006) investigated this scenario through a research that would be conducted among 283 students. The research hypothesis would be that if participants judged a hypothetical agent in a story as guilty, their memories of offense described in the story would have a ripple effect, altering the details of the event towards more negative attributes in the agent’s behavior. Participants in three groups would be presented with a story of an agent (Frank) who had walked out on a lunchtime restaurant bill. One group would be given claims that the act was negative and intentional. Another group would be told that the subject had an honest character and that the act was out of extenuating circumstances. No additional information would be given to the third group. All participants in the groups would then judge Frank’s act. When asked to give details about the act in a week’s time, the group that read negative information about him alleged that he had absconded with a larger bill than he essentially had. Additionally, the level of memory distortion may have been predicted by the level of blameworthiness ascribed to Frank.

Evidence would be presented that a common social evaluation could distort memories about the details of an event; nonetheless, questions may still be raised as to the conditions surrounding the whole situation. Would the same results be realized if the research investigated other domains? For instance if the research investigated negative judgment concerning personal hygiene, would the same results be realized?  At the same time, it would be possible for the participants in this case to remember a higher price rather than insinuating that the price would have been higher. Some implications for altering memory may also take place in swaying the respondents’ judgment such as the accuracy of the eyewitness testimony. These aspects should be considered during future research (Pizarro et al. 2006).

How Self-Relevant Imaginations Affect Memory for Behavior

While imagination may be a powerful tool across varied psychological domains, research in the area may have demonstrated that imagined activities may lead to an inconsistency in memory when the imager is unable to distinguish what may be imagined from what happens in reality. Despite all these findings, a few studies may have been carried out to show whether imagination could also change memory for behavior and therefore, leading to inaccuracy in self-relevant assessments of behavior. Thomas et al. (2006), in a research, conducted two experiments to investigate the effect of imagination on self-relevant behavior and the ensuing memory for the behavior. A relationship of behavioral aspects collected before and after imagination showed reported aspects of behavior distorted after imagination. Moreover, memory for the original aspects of behavior would also get affected. This suggested that imagination could impair an individual’s ability to recall originally reported behavior. In a second experiment, it would be established that the observed changes in the reported behavior would be accompanied by large errors in remembrance of originally noted behavior when participants generated images based on self-relevant scenarios. Memory distortion would be minimized in situations where participants read rather than imagine self-reliant scenarios.

For long, people may have tried to establish whether imagination or mental simulation may influence how people plan, study, perform or behave. Developmental psychologists have been studying children’s ability to imagine future occurrences, and how they would use those skills set goals, fantasize and play. Cognitive psychologists may have explored how individuals use imagination and mental simulations in different cognitive tasks such as problem solving. Several clinical psychologists may have encouraged patients to use imagination to predict complicated future situations and to practice skills for solving them effectively when they occur. The same way, psychologists have utilized the power of imagination to successfully change behavior. This research may have demonstrated that imagined activities may lead to an inconsistency in memory when the imager is unable to distinguish what may be imagined from what happens in reality (Thomas et al. 2006).

Encoding Modality May Affect Memory Accuracy through Retrieval Orientation

In this paper, Pierce focused on false recognition, retrieval orientation and modality. The research paper indicated that false memory could be lower in visual than auditory studies. The leading cause deducted was that visual information was more distinctive (Pierce 2011). The study tested the level to which retrieval orientation could result to a modality effect on memory accuracy. Words in different modalities would be studied; later criteria recollection tests would be conducted. These tests selectively directed retrieval to a single study modality at an instance. Memory errors would be lower when leaning towards visual than when oriented towards auditory information, modality effects would thereby be generalized to an unequivocal source memory task. Effects would persist irrespective of the mode in which tests would be presented; this indicated that retrieval orientation would override the possible cuing properties concerning the test stimulus. A manipulation check that was independent established that visual recollections would subjectively be experienced being lesser auditory than distinctive. The results suggested that retrieval orientation might be enough to instigate a modality effect upon memory accuracy through focusing the monitoring process on the recollection of studied properties that may be diagnostic to a previous presentation.

Self-generated retrievals when multitasking, would improve the memory for names

The finding that recall may be better when repetitions may be distributed rather than when massed may be among the most reliable and strong findings in the literature of memory. The research conducted here utilized the translational research paradigm; it investigated the probability that distributed retrievals might benefit name learning. Here, massed schedule implied lack of intervals between tests; a uniform schedule implied equal intervals between one test and the other while expanding schedule meant increasing intervals between the tests. Helder and Shaughnessy (2008) had 64 college students to learn on names through an expanding schedule, a massed schedule or the uniform schedule. Name recall turned out better with distributed schedules of retrieval (either expanding or uniform) than with the massed schedule. In 2008, the same researchers developed a paradigm that incorporated the multitasking factors of a social situation at the same time allowing the retrieval aspect. Distributed retrievals were found to be effective where participants were multitasking. While this was the case, the multitasking demands would be less than demands of learning the names in social situations. The findings here suffice us with prove that positive effects of distributed retrievals may extend to learning of names in social situations.

Can odour cues retain a distinctive connection to remote past?

Proustian memories - memories spontaneously stimulated by taste and odours have been debated to exceptionally connect to distant past. This perspective suggests a linkage between odour-triggered memories and odour-triggered representations of future happenings concerning their temporal detachment to present.  A connection may be drawn between tastes, odours, and long forgotten past. We may be spontaneously moved to the past with a high degree of reliving by a trigger in the surrounding. Miles and Berntsen advanced research on the relationship between proustian memories and distant past. In this research, the temporal distribution and other phenomenological characteristics of autobiographical memories and future happenings would be analyzed. Here, they went deep to examine the ability of odours, not only to function as triggers for memories for the past events but also to trigger images of possible events in the future. They also tried to link research on odour triggers with the literature on Mental Time Travel (MTT). Mental Time Travel approach focused on projecting an individual back in time to relieve personal previous events or forward in time to imagine possible events in personal future. From these approaches, they found that while odour-generated memories were common from previous years, the future conditions indicated a prominent preponderance of odour- triggered events in the future. Further, they found that odour-evoked memories were not extremely specific as compared to verbal and visual conditions. In addition, odour condition was accountable for interactions concerning event occurring and its importance to life story. The results of this study support the view that Odours carry a unique ability to induce remote autobiographical memories (Miles 2011).

Major discussions could ensue from this research. The results in the research supported the notion that odors may possess a unique connection to past; this could be caused by the achievement of odour identification and the first time associations we get about them in childhood. It may also be attributed to odors being exaggerated by proactive interference. This research contravened the old notion that odour cues elicited past events due to lack of discriminability and abstractness. Further studies may imply that certain types of cueing possess diverse effects for recalling the past versus imaging the future (Miles 2011).

Discussion

Major discussions could be fronted concerning memories. In order to develop the memory as a significant field in cognitive psychology, researchers should pay more attention to the concerning diseases that affect memory. When studying the ripple effects of memories and how they can modify memories of events, further research should be advanced to establish whether the same results be realized if the research investigated other domains. For instance if the research investigated negative judgment concerning personal hygiene, would the same results be realized?

Though it might have been conspicuous that false beliefs could trigger behavioral changes among subjects, it would be crucial for future studies to also note that false suggestions could also trigger a certain true experience in the childhood. It would also be necessary to establish  the level up to which predictions of memory piece would be made instantly or at delay could be receptive to confident memory illusions. When investigating false beliefs and their behavioral consequences, it would be pertinent to note that false suggestions could also trigger a certain true experience in the childhood. For this reason, further research on false beliefs should consider imploring upon the subjects past life, perhaps through interviewing their parents first. In conclusion, the field of memory may be among the most significant topics in cognitive psychology, and further research should be done to affirm doubted concepts.

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