Glossary

Encoding: The processing of information into the memory system - for example, by extracting meaning.

Storage: The retention of encoded information over time.

Retrieval: The process of getting information out of memory storage.

Sensory memory: The immediate, very brief recording of sensory information in the memory system.

Short-term memory: Activated memory that holds a few items briefly, such as the seven digits of a phone number while dialing, before the information is stored or forgotten.

Long-term memory: The relatively permanent and limitless storehouse of the memory system, includes knowledge, skills and experiences.

Working memory: A newer understanding of short-term memory that focuses on conscious, active processing of incoming auditory and visual-spatial information, and of information retrieved from long-term memory.

Parallel processing: The processing of many aspects of a problem simultaneously; the brain's natural mode of information processing for many functions.

Automatic processing: Unconscious encoding of incidental information, such as space, time, and frequency, and of well-learned information, such as word meanings.

Effortful processing: Encoding that requires attention and conscious effort.

Rehearsal: The conscious repetition of information, either to maintain it in consciousness or to encode it for storage.

Spacing effect: The tendency for distributed study or practice to yield better long-term retention than is achieved through massed study or practice.

Serial position effect: Our tendency to recall best the last and first items in a list.

Visual encoding:The encoding of picture images.

Acoustic encoding: The encoding of sound, especially the sound of words.

Semantic encoding: The encoding of meaning, including the meaning of words.

Imagery: Mental pictures; a powerful aid to effortful processing, especially when combined with semantic encoding.

Mnemonics: Memory aids, especially those techniques that use vivid imagery and organizational devices.

Chunking: Organizing items into familiar, manageable units; often occurs automatically.

Iconic memory: A momentary sensory memory of visual stimuli; a photographic or picture-image memory lasting no more than a few tenths of a second.

Echoic memory: A momentary sensory memory of auditory stimuli; if attention is elsewhere, sounds and words can still be recalled within 3 or 4 seconds.

Long-term potential: An increase in a synapse's firing potential after brief, rapid stimulation. Believed to be a neural basis for learning and memory.

Flashbulb memory: A clear memory of an emotionally significant moment or event.

Amnesia: The loss of memory.

Implicit memory: Retention independent of conscious recollection. Also called nondeclarative or procedural memory.

Explicit memory: Memory of facts and experiences that one can consciously know and "declare". Also called declarative memory.

Hippocampus: A neural center that is located in the limbic system; helps process explicit memories for storage.

Recall: A measure of memory in which the person must retrieve information learned earlier, as on a fill-in-the-blank test.

Recognition: A measure of memory in which the person need only identify items previously learned, as on a multiple choice rest.

Relearning: A measure of memory that assesses the amount of time saved when learning material for a second time.

Priming: The activation, often unconsciously, of particular associations in memory.

Deja vi: That eerie sense that "I've experienced this before." Cues from the current situation may subconsciously trigger retrieval of an earlier experience.

Mood-congruent memory: The tendency to recall experiences that are consistent with one's current good or bad mood.

Proactive interference: The disruptive effect of prior learning on the recall of new information.

Retroactive interference: The disruptive effect of new learning on the recall of old information.

Repression: In psychoanalytic theory, the basic defense mechanism that banishes from consciousness anxiety-arousing thoughts, feelings, and memories.

Misinformation effect: Incorporating misleading information into one's memory of an event.

Source amnesia: Attributing to the wrong source an event we have experienced, heard about, read about, or imagined. Also called source misattribution.

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