- Depth of processing:
- The proposal by Craik and Lockhart that, the more deeply an item is processed, the better will be its retention.
- Dual-coding hypothesis:
- Highly imageable words are easy to learn because they can be encoded both visually and verbally.
- Elaborative rehearsal:
- Process whereby items are not simply kept in mind, but are processed either more deeply or more elaborately.
- Incidental learning:
- Learning situation in which the learner is unaware that a test will occur.
- Intentional learning:
- Learning when the learner knows that there will be a test of retention.
- Maintenance rehearsal:
- A process of rehearsal whereby items are “kept in mind” but not processed more deeply.
- Subjective organization:
- A strategy whereby a learner attempts to organize unstructured material so as to enhance learning.
- Transfer-appropriate processing (TAP):
- Proposal that retention is best when the mode of encoding and mode of retrieval are the same.
Research activity: encoding, processing, and recall
Read the following list of words out loud, then look away and recall as many as you can in approximately two minutes.
Note down how many you get correct.Do the same for lists 2, 3, and 4
When you look at your total recalled for each list, hopefully you should see that it has gradually increased as you’ve progressed through the lists. Look back at the words in the lists. What does this increase in recall tell you about the way in which you encode words?
- An interview with Fergus Craik.
- The Seven Sins of Memory: Professor Daniel Schacter provides an update on the current understanding of the ‘seven sins’ of memory errors.
- A Royal Institute lecture: Eleanor Maguire talking about the neuroscience of memory.
- Eric Kandel on the New Science of Mind.
- A news story about how a man with episodic memory loss uses Twitter to help him capture important memories.
Please find below biographies of three important researchers in the field of memory: Frederic Charles Bartlett, Fergus “Gus” Craik, and Faraneh Vargha-Khadem.
Frederic Charles Bartlett
Born on October 20, 1886 in the Gloucestershire county of South West England, Bartlett received his bachelor’s degree in Philosophy in 1909 from the University of London.
While holding the post of tutor at Cambridge University, Bartlett was awarded a fellowship at St. John’s College in 1913 and earned a first-class degree in moral sciences the next year. Appointed as relief director of Cambridge’s experimental psychology laboratory in 1915, he rose to the rank of reader when he took over the Cambridge laboratory permanently in 1922.
In 1924, Bartlett, now married to Emily Mary Smith, a research collaborator, initiated a 24-year stint as editor of the British Journal of Psychology. In 1933, then the First Professor of Experimental Psychology at Cambridge, Bartlett was made a fellow of the Royal Society the same year his seminal work, Remembering, was published.
Later becoming the director of the Applied Psychology Unit at Cambridge, Bartlett’s prominence in British society and services to the Royal Air Force was acknowledged with an appointment to the order of Commanders of the British Empire (1941), before being knighted in 1948. He died on September 30, 1969.
Bartlett’s early work centered on the psychophysics of sound detection—a topic he studied with his wife. However, the influence of Cambridge cultural and physical anthropologist W.H.R. Rivers sparked Bartlett’s interest in individual differences and social conventions that help determine memory recall and perceptual interpretation.
Rejecting the common practice of studying nonsense syllables, Bartlett commonly employed the method of repeated reproduction (having a single participant repeatedly reproduce a studied story/picture over an extended time span) and the method of serial reproduction (having one participant pass along the story to another participant, who then passes it along to a third participant, etc.) of naturalistic stimuli, such as the Native American folk tale, The War of the Ghosts. Through his research, Bartlett found that memories are reconstructed and conventionalized, with schema helping to fill in the missing details. Thus, memories are not static, but pieces of larger, unconscious mental structures called schemata—an idea he developed, in part due to his extended interactions with Henry Head, a neurologist.
Bartlett’s later career was characterized by a stronger emphasis on applied work, though he had always been interested in this area, writing on the topic of personnel selection and war neuroses related to World War I in 1927. Although Bartlett’s work on schemata failed to fundamentally alter the nature of psychological research during his lifetime, Marvin Minksy’s later work helped revive interest in schemata within the fields of artificial intelligence and human memory, making Remembering the second most cited work in the field of human memory (White, 1983). Bartlett managed to play an indirect role in advancing what would become the information-processing approach to the study of cognition, having had the opportunity to work with Kenneth Craik and influencing Donald Broadbent’s later study at Cambridge University.
Bartlett, F. C. (1927). Psychology and the soldier. London: Cambridge University Press.
Bartlett, F. C. (1932; reprint 1964). Remembering: A study in experimental and social psychology. London: Cambridge University Press.
White, M. J. (1983). Prominent publications in cognitive psychology. Memory & Cognition, 11, 423–427.
Harris, A. D., & Zangwill, O. L. (1973). The writings of Sir Frederic Bartlett, C.B.E., F.R.S.: An annotated handlist. British Journal of Psychology, 64, 493–510.
Fergus “Gus” Craik
Born on April 17, 1935 in Edinburgh, Scotland, Fergus Craik’s earliest career ambitions were to be a minister or carpenter. That all changed when he encountered the joys of science (especially biology) during high school. His academic motivation led him to enter medical school at the University of Edinburgh. However, the rote memorization necessary for his courses grew tiresome for Craik, who instead became intrigued by neurology. Thus, Craik switched his major to psychology, then a new field at Edinburgh.
Professor James Drever introduced Craik to some of the fundamentals of memory research, in assigning Donald Hebb’s The Organization of Behavior, and by the time Craik had to analyze data for his honors thesis, his interest in the subject had grown. One of the participants in his thesis study, which looked at task complexity’s effect on duration judgments, was named Anne—the woman he would eventually marry.
Craik left for the University of Liverpool in 1960 to pursue his Ph.D., after an advertising job fell through. Five years later, he earned his degree. Upon graduating, he accepted a position on the faculty of Birkbeck College at the University of London, where he stayed until 1971, when he was offered a position at the University of Toronto, where he had spent a previous year as visiting professor.
During his illustrious career at Toronto, he was named Editor of the Journal of Verbal Learning and Behavior (1980–1984), as well as a fellow of both the Canadian and American Psychological Associations and the Royal Society of Canada. In addition, he received the Guggenheim and Killam Research Fellowships in the 1980s, the William James Fellow Award from the American Psychological Society (1993), the Hebb Award of the Canadian Society for Brain, Behavior, and Cognitive Science (1998), and the Killam Prize for Science in 2000. Named a University Professor of Psychology in 1997, he also held the Glassman Chair of Neuropsychology from 1996 until he retired in 2000.
A conference was held in May of that year to celebrate his retirement. This gathering yielded a book called Perspectives on Human Memory and Cognitive Aging: Essays in Honor of Fergus Craik. Fergus, now semi-retired but still associated with the Rotman-Baycrest Institute and the psychology department at Toronto, and his wife have two grown children.
Craik is best known for the Levels of Processing model he proposed, along with Robert Lockhart, in 1972. This model countered the longstanding notion that memories are processed in distinct stages for sensory, working, and long-term memories. Instead, Craik suggested that stimulus information is actively processed at multiple levels, in parallel. Moreover, the depth of the level of processing, in combination with the inherent properties of the stimulus, helps to determine the extent of subsequent memory performance. Craik has found that deep processing at encoding can enhance later memory performance by as much as 400%.
His affiliation with the Rotman Institute has allowed him to neuroimage the processes supporting the different levels of processing. From these studies using PET and fMRI, he’s discovered that deep semantic processing is associated with brain activity in the ventral areas of the left prefrontal cortex. Activity in the frontal lobe, which is associated with goal-directed behavior, tends to diminish in old age, in tandem with a decline in the elderly’s ability to self-initiate appropriate mental processing for engaging in successful prospective memory tasks in the laboratory.
Craik continues to investigate the ways in which some mnemonic abilities change (while others, such as item recognition, do not) as individuals age, and how people can learn to overcome the expected deficits. For instance, recognition tests provide external cues that help reinstate the original learning context and, thus, facilitate memory performance in the elderly. Other correlates of higher memory performance under study are continued cardiovascular activity and rigorous mental activities, such as puzzle-solving and lifelong bilingualism.
Attention is another area of cognition sensitive to changes in age. Craik and colleagues have divided the attention of participants from a variety of age groups, having them perform another task, in addition to a primary memory task, in order to study the differences in performance. Not only does recall of actual events vary by age, but the tendency to recall false memories increases with age. Craik endeavors to help mitigate these errors through the application of his research.
Luo, L. Craik, F .I. M. (2008). Aging and memory: A cognitive approach. Canadian Journal of Psychiatry, 56(6), 346–353.
Tulving, E., & Craik, F. I. M. (Eds.) (2000). The Oxford handbook of memory. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
Craik, F. I. M., & Salthouse, T. A. (Eds.) (1999). The handbook of aging and cognition (2nd ed). Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates.
Craik, F. I. M., & Lockhart, R. S. (1972). Levels of processing: A framework for memory research. Journal of Verbal Learning and Verbal Behavior, 11, 671–684.
Faraneh Vargha-Khadem was born in Tehran, Iran and spent her early years there until the age of 13 when she came to the UK to learn English. She returned to Tehran when she was about 15 and obtained a post as a translator/administrator with a consulting engineering firm. Her role was to translate from Persian into English official contracts relating to offshore oil drilling. In 1967, after about 18 months in this setting, she left her homeland permanently to pursue a university education in Montreal, Canada. In 1970 she obtained a B.A. Honors degree from Concordia University (previously named Sir George Williams University).
Following a brief move to the US with her family, she registered at the University of Massachusetts in Amherst for graduate studies, but returned to Montreal to settle and to continue her graduate studies at McGill University while still maintaining her status at the University of Massachusetts (supported by a Canada Council Doctoral Fellowship).
Vargha-Khadem’s supervisor at McGill University was Professor Michael Corballis, and at the University of Massachusetts, it was Professor Daniel Jordan (now deceased). She completed all her graduate research and course work, including the well-known seminar series offered to graduate students by Donald O. Hebb, at McGill University but obtained her Masters and Doctorate degrees from the University of Massachusetts.
Her postdoctoral training was at the Montreal Children's Hospital, Faculty of Neurology and Neurosurgery at the Montreal Neurological Institute, McGill University (supported by a Quebec Government Post Doctoral Fellowship for 2 years). In 1980 she obtained a grant from the Montreal Children's Hospital Research Institute, McGill University, to conduct a study on the consequences of focal lesions on speech and language in children. After completing this project, she moved with her family to London in 1982 and has resided there ever since.
Upon arrival in London, she joined the MRC Unit of Developmental Psychology headed by the late Dr Neil O'Connor. With his encouragement, she applied and obtained a project grant in 1983 from the MRC and joined as a lecturer the Department of Pediatrics at the Institute of Child Health/Great Ormond Street Hospital for Children. She was promoted to Senior Lecturer in 1988 as part of the newly created Neurosciences Unit at the Institute of Child Health, Reader, in 1995, and appointed Professor of Developmental Cognitive Neuroscience in 2000.
In 1996, the Dean of the Institute of Child Health, the late Professor Roland Levinsky, created a separate unit under the title of Developmental Cognitive Neuroscience Unit (DCNU) and appointed Vargha-Khadem as its head, thereby giving recognition to this new field of research. The DCNU comprises an academic arm and a clinical arm with 35 staff members conducting clinical research on children with disease or injury to the brain.
Vargha-Khadem is a Fellow of the Academy of Medical Sciences (since 2000), a Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts (since 1998), and has received several awards, including the IPSEN Jean Louis Signoret award for contributions to genetics of behavior (2006), and the Asian Women of Achievement Award for professional achievement (2003). She is a Board Member for United Nations Forum for Women—UNIFEM UK, and on the Executive Board of the charity Gender Justice for Women in Iraq. She is active in raising awareness on Human Rights issues, especially as they relate to the status of women and girls worldwide, and is working to provide access to education for Baha'i students in Iran who are denied this fundamental human right.
Vargha-Khadem is married and has three grown children and four grandchildren.
Vargha-Khadem studies the cognitive and behavioral deficits of children with brain injuries. This work is aimed at understanding how neural systems develop under normal circumstances. By studying different patients, she has been able to document dissociations between episodic and semantic memory, recognition and recall, and familiarity and recollection.
Vargha-Khadem has been following a number of patients with amnesia resulting from hypoxic-ischaemic episodes in childhood that caused bilateral hippocampal damage. In contrast to their devastated episodic memory abilities, their semantic abilities remain largely intact, even when the amnesia-inducing episode occurred at birth. These recent findings have led to a new proposal regarding the functional organization of the medial temporal lobe, namely, that context-free semantic memory depends mainly on the subhippocampal cortices, which link the sensory association areas to the hippocampus, whereas the hippocampus itself, located at the top of the hierarchy, is essential only for the most complex form of memory, namely, for context-rich episodes.
Another area of interest to Vargha-Khadem is the development of executive control capabilities. Word fluency, a form of executive function that is seriously impaired after left prefrontal damage sustained in adulthood, is substantially spared after comparable congenital lesions. However, another form of executive function, namely card sorting, which is severely impaired after prefrontal lesions of either hemisphere in adults, is also impaired after either left or right congenital prefrontal lesions. The latter result is surprising in view of the considerable evidence in the literature indicating that the prefrontal cortex does not reach full functional maturity until late childhood or even adolescence. Her finding highlights the need to examine many different abilities within and across domains in order to understand how the cerebral system underlying each one evolves functionally.
She and her colleagues also research the effects of focal lesions on the organization and lateralization of function in the developing brain. She follows the children and maps out in what ways the young brain is capable of functionally reorganizing.
Moreover, she has been investigating the speech and language disorder related to the FOXP2 gene mutation. By studying three generations of a family afflicted with this form of oromotor dyspraxia, she and her collaborators have identified the phenotype resulting from this mutation, as well as its structural and functional neural correlates.
Vargha-Khadem, F., Gadian, D. C., Watkins, K. E., Connelly, A., Van Paesschen, W., & Mishkin, M. (1997). Differential effects of early hippocampal pathology on episodic and semantic memory. Science, 277, 376–380.
Vargha-Khadem. F., Watkins, K., Alcock, K., Fletcher, P., & Passingham, R. (1995). Cognitive and praxic deficits in a large family with a genetically transmitted speech and language disorder. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 92, 930–933.
Liegeois, F., Baldeweg, T., Connelly, A., Gadian, D. G., Mishkin, M., & Vargha-Khadem, F. (2003). Functional MRI abnormalities during covert speech associated with FOXP2 gene mutation. Nature Neuroscience, 6(11), 1230–1237.
Vargha-Khadem, F., Carr, L. J., Isaacs, E., Brett, E., Adams, C., & Mishkin, M. (1997). Onset of speech after left hemispherectomy in a nine-year-old boy. Brain, 120, 159–182.