An Evaluation of the Factors Which Influence the Way in Which We Construct and Reconstruct Memories.

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AN EVALUATION OF THE FACTORS WHICH INFLUENCE THE WAY IN WHICH WE CONSTRUCT AND RECONSTRUCT MEMORIES. This essay will attempt to evaluate the factors which influence the way in which we construct and reconstruct memories. Construction of memory requires encoding which is how we absorb information. This is done by automatic and effortful processing. We encode by means of encoding meaning, as well as imagery, also the organisation in preparation for remembering. In retaining information our sensory memory, short term memory and long term memory retain data for different lengths of time. Many factors influence the capabilities with which we construct and reconstruct our memories. These involve past experiences, knowledge strategies, context and intentions .To remember any event requires that we get information into our brains “ENCODING” to retain it “STORAGE” and to later get it back out “RETRIEVAL” (CITE DAVID G MYERS) Memory is important to all areas of human life and therefore memory has been at the centre of Psychological research .A great deal of research has been conducted and a range of approaches have been utilised. Memory research draws on different traditions including, experimentation and biological psychology introspection. Memory research using different strands of cognitive tradition are constantly reviewed and updated as new research develops our understanding. Psychologists have employed a range of experimental techniques (i: e control laboratory experiments quasi-experiments, as well as diary studies). Additionally cognitive neuroscience, neuropsychological studies and computer models of how memory performs have also been used. (CITE WORKBOOK PG 93) The relationship between existing knowledge and the way we process new information is critical.. The idea that memory is not a passive mechanism but is a process that is active, selective and constructive is supported by the work of “Bartlett” (CITE PHEONIX PG 130) in his 1920’s “The war of ghost story”. Like Ebbinghaus, Bartlett employed experimental methods of investigation, however rather than use meaningless material to study memory as Ebbinghaus had; Bartlett explored the effects of past experiences on processing new information using meaningful symbols. His work emphasises the impact of social factors on memory. Bartlett found omissions, transformations and rationalizations occurred as a result of interpreting the original story in a way that had relevance for them and tied in with their own life experiences .He argued that we use knowledge and past experiences to understand new information (effort after meaning). He used the term “schema” to note the mental representations that are formed as a result of past experiences. Bartlett argued that new perceptual input is understood in terms of schemata and this impact on the accuracy and completeness of memory. Bartlett suggested that past experiences affect memories that we can omit or change. His introduction and his works coincided with the growth in behaviourist tradition that centred on overt behaviour. Ebbinghaus asserts that certain types of information are remembered with effort and attention, whilst others are automatic. Impatient with philosophical speculations about memory,. He explored his own learning and forgetting of novel verbal materials that lacked ecological validity and consequently did for the study of memory what Ivan Pavlov did for the study of conditioning (CITE D MEYRES) He noted that the more time we apply to learning new information, the more we retain. Ebbinghaus’s idea that initial forgetting rate is quick but it does slow down is supported by other research findings. Ebbinghaus‘s findings with regard to the “spacing effect” (1885) has also been supported by subsequent research. The spacing effect suggests memory improves when learning is spread throughout several sessions rather than single session study. Related research, investigating the manipulation of memory, conducted by...
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