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Memory and Learning

Memory and Learning

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Description:

This lesson will examine and describe availability and accessibility in memory.

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Tutorial

What's Covered

This lesson will look at the relationship between memory and learning by covering:

  1. Availability vs. Accessibility
  2. Environmental Factors

1. Availability vs. Accessibility

There are three stages that information goes through to become a memory:

  • Encoding
  • Storage
  • Retrieval

Forgetting a memory can result from a failure in any one of these processes, and it is important to differentiate between the terms availability and accessibility of a memory.

If a memory is not available, then there's a problem with either the encoding or the storage of that memory. It is not within long-term memory. However, if a memory is not accessible, then it is possible to make it available. It can still be inside of long-term storage, but there's a problem with retrieving that information.

Terms to Know

Availability

Where there is no problem with the encoding or storage of the memory and you have the memory.

Accessibility

When a memory has been encoded and stored, and you are also able to retrieve it.


2. Environmental Factors

If there is a problem with retrieval, how do you actually recover that data?

Psychologists have found that certain environmental factors can affect your memory. Different kinds of stimuli around a person can influence how memory is actually encoded in their brain.

How those memories are retrieved can also depend on those stimuli. This is called a memory cue. A memory cue is a stimulus that is associated with a memory; it can assist in the retrieval of that memory.

ExampleIf you forgot something you were planning to do in your house while walking through it, you might walk back to the room that you had the thought in, and find that you remember.

Term to Know

  • Memory Cue
  • A stimulus associated with a memory that can assist in retrieval.

Think About It


Sensory information can be used as a memory cue. John is a student studying for a big test. While studying, he will use the smell of peppermint and associate it to important points.

When the day of the test comes, he brings peppermint with him. If John has trouble remembering something during the test, he can use the peppermint to jog his memory and to recall all those facts. It may sound a little strange, but it is effective.

A individual's own personal environment can also affect their ability to recall memories. State-dependent learning means that memory retrieval can be affected by a person's bodily state at the time of their learning. Factors available in the person's body can affect the encoding and retrieval of the information later.

ExampleSay you learned something when you were drinking. Later you can't quite remember what it was, so you drink something again. That state of intoxication can help in the retrieval if it was present when you were encoding that information.

Term to Know

  • State-Dependent Learning
  • Memory retrieval can be affected by a person’s bodily state at the time of learning.

This can also apply to states like mood.

ExampleWhen you are sad, you may remember more sad things that you learned when you were previously depressed. This, in turn, can lead to feelings of more depression.


Summary

There is a difference in the availability vs. accessibility of a memory. If there is a failure in encoding or storage of a memory, then the memory is unavailable. If the problem in remember something is in retrieval then it is an accessibility issue. The memory is still there, but you are unable to access it. 

Environmental factors can play a part in this. Memory cues can be used to help encode and retrieve memories. State-dependent learning can also impact memory; things like intoxication and mood can bring back memories formed while in those states.

Keep up the learning and have a great day!

Source: This work is adapted from Sophia author Erick Taggart.

TERMS TO KNOW
  • Availability

    Where there is no problem with the encoding or storage of the memory and you have the memory.

  • Accessibility

    When a memory has been encoded and stored, and you are also able to retrieve it.

  • Memory Cue

    A stimulus associated with a memory that can assist in retrieval.

  • State-Dependent Learning

    Memory retrieval can be affected by a person’s bodily state at the time of learning.