Y183 Tma01

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Module: Y183 – Assignment: TMA01

Task 1

How can the way in which we organise our thinking by using mental images, concepts and schemas help us improve our memory?

Part A

Sketch out a plan for an essay to answer the above question.


- what is the task?

- how do I plan to address it?

- split into 3 areas

- definition of each

- evidence of each

Mental images:

- definition

- what they can be used for – examples

- studies / evidence


- definition

- uses

- examples

- studies / evidence


- definition

- uses

- examples

- studies / evidence


- summarise main points

- memory aids


Part B

Write an essay of approximately 1000 words.

In this essay I plan to explain how our memory can be improved by organising our thinking with the aid of mental images, concepts and schemas. I will do this by defining each term and giving examples and evidence for each.

Firstly I will look at mental imagery, which is a tool used to help us visualise information which is written or spoken, so that when we come to recall it we can picture it. Mental images are an aid to memory and have been shown to work best because of the effort that has been put in to making those images in the first place. As an example, the human brain is capable of storing a vast number of different images at one time, so if asked to recall the items in your living room, it can remember the images in different areas. The more bizarre or odd the image we attach to something, the easier it is thought to be to remember it.

There have been a number of experiments used to evidence this. Spoors et al (2007) give the example of a method of learning the French word ‘poubelle’, meaning ‘bin’ in English, by making a picture of a bell being used as a bin and which has an unpleasant smell.

Another example is that carried out by Michael Raugh and Richard Atkinson (1975) where two groups of students were asked to learn sixty Spanish words – one group were taught a key word technique, in which they attached a mental image to each word, and this

group scored far higher in a test to recall the word than the group who were not taught the technique.

There are various memory strategies which are based on using mental imagery. One example of this is an ancient mnemonic device called the Method of Loci, in which you learn something by walking through a sequence of events in your mind, usually using familiar places to assist your recall. It can be used to memorise a list of items by associating each item with a location as you walk through it in your mind.

Secondly, I will look at the way in which we can aid our memory by forming concepts. This is where we group certain items or events into categories, where they have shared properties. By looking at information we can often see relationships and make connections so that we will form concepts, often without realising we have done so. It can be a more confusing area to understand as how we see the world is very individual. As stated in Spoors et al (2007), children will often overgeneralise the concept that as a dog has fur, four legs and a tail, then a cat has the same characteristics so must also be a dog.

We can use concepts to improve our memory by sorting list items into categories. An example of this would be a shopping list, where we can group fruit, bakery items, meat, cleaning products and so on. This helps to improve our memory as it has been shown that it is easier to remember things in categories than in a random order list as we can link one thing to another in our memory.

An experiment was carried out by Weston Bousfield (1953) in which he asked participants to learn a list of sixty words that could be split...
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