Learning Activity 1 (p. 237)

Learning Activity 6.2 (p. 239)

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Learning Activity 6.2 (p. 239)

1 How is memory commonly defined in psychology?

Definition should refer to memory as an active information processing system, e.g. the storage and retrieval of information acquired through learning (rather than an inactive/passive process, e.g. an internal record or representation of learnt information or of some prior event or experience).


a Describe the processes of encoding, storage and retrieval.

• Encoding: converting information into a useable form or ‘code’ so that it can enter and be stored in memory.

• Storage: retention of information over time.

• Retrieval: locating and recovering the stored information from memory so that we are consciously aware of it.

b Explain the interrelationship between these processes with reference to an example.

Explanation should refer to dependence of storage on encoding and retrieval on storage and encoding, i.e. the way information is encoded determines exactly what and how that information is stored, which in turn can limit what can subsequently be retrieved. If any one of these processes fails, memory will fail.

Student examples should demonstrate understanding of the interrelationships between these processes and may refer to effective memory and/or memory failure.

c Explain whether memory is possible without any one of these processes.

• No encoding: memory is impossible because information cannot be processed in the neurological form required for storage/retention (e.g. engram/memory trace); the way information is encoded determines exactly what and how that information is stored.

• No storage: memory is impossible because information cannot be retained (anywhere in the brain).

• No retrieval: memory is impossible because information cannot be recovered (from wherever it would be stored) and brought into conscious awareness.

3 Explain why comparing human memory to information-processing by a computer may misrepresent or oversimplify human memory.

Explanation may refer to:

• historical context of the analogy, e.g. following the increasing use and understanding of computers in the 1960s, psychologists who adopted the cognitive perspective to explaining mental processes and behaviour likened human memory to information-processing by a computer

• contemporary view of human memory, e.g. a much more sophisticated and an active, multi-faceted process comprising different memory systems for different types of information.

4 Extension activity – online question.

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