- Concept maps:
- Diagrams in which the links among general concepts (at the top of the diagram) and specific concepts (lower down) are shown.
- Long-term working memory:
- Concept proposed by Ericsson and Kintsch to account for the way in which long-term memory can be used as a working memory to maintain complex cognitive activity.
- Method of loci:
- A memory technique in which to-be-remembered items are associated with various locations well known to the learner.
- Mind maps:
- Diagrams in which word concepts are linked in very flexible ways around a central key concept; they often contain images and colour.
- Pegword system:
- A memory technique in which to-be-remembered items are associated with pegwords, each of which rhymes with a different number between one and ten.
- Story mnemonic:
- A memory technique that involves constructing a story linking unrelated words together in the correct order.
- The tendency for one sense modality to evoke another.
- Testing effect:
- The finding that long-term memory is enhanced when much of the learning period is devoted to retrieving the to-be-remembered information.
- von Restorff effect:
- The finding that a to-be-remembered item that is distinctively different from other items is especially likely to be remembered.
Research activity 1: verbal mnemonics
In 1849 Reverend Brayshaw published a book entitled Metrical mnemonics applied to geography, astronomy and chronology,which contained hundreds of rhymes incorporating significant dates in the relevant subject areas.
Brayshaw’s technique involved substituting numbers for consonants, then making words from those consonants. His code was as follows:
To create words from strings of numbers select one of the appropriate consonants for each digit and insert the necessary vowels.
For example, 25/12/08 could form the words FUEL BAD WAR by selecting the consonants FLBDWR to represent each of the six digits. To remember these words as meaning Christmas 2008 you could combine them into a rhyme or other meaningful sentence. For example, we fuel bad war in the trenches no more, as 2008 is 90 years after the end of the First World War.
Try this technique with dates that are important to you. You might try remembering dates of exams that you have to take, friends’ or family birthdays, or the date when you have to pay a bill by. First try creating the words, then making a rhyme.
Do you find this technique useful? Are there any downsides to the technique? Can you think of any adjustments you could make to make it more useful to you?
Research activity 2: improve your study skills
Using the information contained in Chapter 17, create a study plan for a course you are taking. You should think about the mnemonic techniques and study skills described as well as goal-setting techniques. Your plan should contain a detailed timetable of activities that you intend to do, and the techniques that you are going to use to achieve your goals. Compare your plan with your usual study techniques. Are there any key similarities or differences? Do you think the plan would improve your performance? Once you have followed the plan, evaluate whether you think the techniques you used had an effect on your performance.
- Hunt (2013) — Reed Hunt discusses several reasons why memory is enhanced by distinctive processing.
- Dunlosky, Rawson, Marsh, Nathan, and Willingham (2013) — John Dunlosky and his colleagues discuss and assess the effectiveness of several techniques designed to enhance learning and memory.
- Memory Strategies: Links to explanations of keyword method, method of loci, etc.
- Henry Roediger talking about retrieval practice to enhance learning and retention.
- An interview with Jeffrey D. Karpicke.
Please find below biographies of four important researchers in the field of memory: Henry L. “Roddy” Roediger, III, John M. Wilding, Anders Ericsson, and Peter Edwin Morris.
Henry L. “Roddy” Roediger, III
Henry L. Roediger, III was born on July 24, 1947 in Roanoke, Virginia. A nurse in the maternity ward, mispronouncing the newborn’s surname as “Roddy-ger,” unwittingly inspired the nickname, “Roddy,” which has stuck with Roediger to this day. Growing up in Danville, Virginia, Roediger suffered the untimely loss of his mother, May Wertz Roediger, when he was 5 years old. The desire to preserve the memories of his late mother sparked his interest in the field of human memory. At the age of 14, Roediger enrolled at the Riverside Military Academy in Gainesville, Georgia, from which he graduated as valedictorian and commander of the cadet corps in 1965.
Roediger went on to attend Washington and Lee University in Lexington. During his time there he received a National Science Foundation Undergraduate Research Fellowship for summer study. He graduated magna cum laude with his B.A. in 1969 and quickly moved on to Yale University where he pursued his Ph.D. research on “Inhibition in recall from cueing with recall targets,” under the supervision of Robert G. Crowder. After receiving his doctorate in 1973, Roediger was hired as an assistant professor at Purdue University, where he would spend the next 15 years, broken only by stints as visiting professor at the University of Toronto from 1976–1978 and again between 1981–1982, by which point he had been promoted to full Professor at Purdue.
In 1988, Roediger moved to Houston, beginning an 8-year tenure as the Lynette S. Autrey Professor of Psychology at Rice University. He received a Guggenheim Fellowship in 1994–1995 that facilitated his research on memory illusions, among other endeavors. Making his way to Washington University in St. Louis in 1996, he served as Chair of the Department of Psychology until 2004 and since then has continued as Dean of Academic Planning in Arts and Sciences, in addition to his title as the James S. McDonnell Distinguished University Professor of Psychology.
For the years between 1994 and 1998, Roediger served as the editor of the Psychonomic Bulletin & Review, a position he held between 1985 and 1989 for the Journal of Experimental Psychology: Learning, Memory, and Cognition. He was named President of the American Psychological Society (now named the Association for Psychological Science) in 2003. Recently, he received the Outstanding Faculty Mentor Award and the Howard Crosby Warren Medal from the Society of Experimental Psychologists, both in 2008. Roediger has been a prolific researcher, publishing hundreds of works on the topic of human learning and memory. Moreover, his publications were cited as having the greatest impact in the field of psychology, according to a study by the Institute of Scientific Information covering the years between 1990 and 1994.He is married to Kathleen McDermott, and he has two children from a previous marriage, Kurt and Rebecca.
Roediger’s name is familiar in memory research, not only because of his widely read articles and textbooks on the subject, but also because of his involvement in studying a variety of issues in the field, including part-list cueing inhibition, hypermermnesia (improved recall over repeated tests), and others described below.
In 1995 Roediger collaborated with Kathleen McDermott in developing the Deese/Roediger/McDermott (DRM) paradigm commonly used in classroom demonstrations. This experiment reveals that memory is not a veritable recording of past experiences, but a creation that can be distorted by inferences that we draw from past experiences. Indeed, presenting participants with a number of semantically related words (e.g., HOT, SHIVER, FREEZE, CHILLY, FROST, ICE, WINTER, SNOW) often results in vivid false memories for having seen a critical item that was absent from the original list (e.g., COLD).
Roediger has also explored how source-monitoring failures contribute to false memories, including how information from one source (e.g., an authority figure’s suggestion or one’s own imagination) can become confused with one’s memory of actual events. Not everyone is equally prone to suffer from memory illusions and false memory effects, according to Roediger’s research. Namely, older adults tend to be more susceptible than are younger adults; the extent to which age-related deterioration of certain brain regions is to blame for this is the topic of ongoing investigation, in addition to figuring out how false memories can be reduced.
Another area that has come under Roediger’s empirical eye has been the dissociation between explicit and implicit memories. He and his collaborators have sought to increase our understanding of how the principles guiding memory differ, based upon the type of test used to assess retention. Roediger, himself an acclaimed lecturer, has advocated for applying the findings of laboratory experiments, such as these, to real-world learning situations. For instance, he has recently reported that repeated testing, rather than study, appears to ensure better long-term recall. The testing effect, therefore, demonstrates that tests should not be relegated to a simple outcome measure of learning, but also should be used as a potent learning tool. Currently he is exploring the generalizability of the testing effect and the type of factors that moderate its benefits.
Roediger, H. L. (1990). Implicit memory: Retention without remembering. American Psychologist, 45, 1043–1056.
Roediger, H. L., & McDermott, K. B. (1995). Creating false memories: Remembering words not presented in lists. Journal of Experimental Psychology: Learning, Memory and Cognition, 21, 803–814.
Roediger, H. L., & Karpicke, J. D. (2006). The power of testing memory: Basic research and implications for educational practice. Perspectives on Psychological Science, 1, 181–210.
John M. Wilding
John Wilding was born in Newbury, England and attended schools in Newbury, Plymouth, and Reading. After National Service in Germany he went to St. John’s College, Oxford to study Literae Humaniores, popularly known as Greats (Latin and Greek literature and history, plus ancient and modern philosophy). During the course of this, he developed an interest in psychology, particularly attracted by the lure of discovering new knowledge by experimentation, and took a further degree in Psychology and Philosophy. In 1964 he was appointed to an assistant lectureship at Bedford College, University of London. He then completed a part-time Ph.D. at University College, which required laborious and detailed analysis of hundreds of decision times from a stimulus identification task with the aid of only a basic calculator.
He was appointed Reader in Psychology in 1985 and moved with the Bedford Psychology Department to Royal Holloway, University of London when the two colleges merged. He remained in that position until 2001, when he retired. Wilding served as co-editor of the Bulletin of the British Psychological Society (the precursor to The Psychologist) from 1976–1982, as Reviews Editor for the European Journal of Cognitive Psychology from 1988–1994, and was on the Editorial Board of Applied Cognitive Psychology from 2000–2004.
After receiving his Ph.D., Wilding continued to study reaction times on stimulus identification tasks and pursued a number of other research interests in the next few years, including studies on subliminal perception and the effects of noise and other arousing factors on short-term memory performance.
In the early 1980s, with Elizabeth Valentine, his interest was aroused through a student project in studying individual cases of unusual memory ability, and this proved the precursor to a fruitful collaboration over the next 20 years. Their collaboration produced a number of papers and chapters and culminated in their book, Superior Memory, published in 1997. An important finding of the research was the development of objective criteria that distinguished expertise based on strategies for memorizing from expertise that appeared to depend on superior natural ability.
In 2003, with Eleanor Maguire and Narinder Kapur, Wilding and Valentine published a unique study using fMRI scanning to record activity in the brains of memory experts while they carried out a variety of tasks; this demonstrated higher activity in brain areas processing location, matching the experts’ explanation of their memory as based on the method of loci.Wilding and Valentine also became interested in wider issues of the role of memory, study strategy, and other abilities in academic performance, and published a number of studies of school and university students; at one point making the front page of the Times Educational Supplement with a study showing that memory ability was a better predictor of examination performance in 16-year-olds than IQ. More recently this line of work has continued with a different emphasis, in collaboration with Bernice Andrews, in studies incorporating investigations of the effects of stress on student performance.
Wilding has also collaborated with Susan Cook in studying one other aspect of memory, memory for voices (earwitness memory), where they demonstrated that such memory was impaired when the face of the speaker was visible (the voice overshadowing effect).
In the mid 1990s, Wilding began to develop again one of his early research interests that he had not pursued in depth, the nature of attention, and he combined this with a developing interest in the use of the increasingly available portable computers for running experiments, particularly for use with cases of neurodevelopmental disorders. He was particularly interested in the possibilities for devising interesting tasks for children, especially groups that are difficult to test, in the form of computer games.
Since his retirement as Emeritus Reader in 2001 this has been his main research interest and he has published a large number of papers, many of them in collaboration with Kim Cornish at McGill University in Montreal, both on normally developing children and on children with genetic disorders of attention. These studies have made extensive and fruitful use of the computerized games he devised to test attention in young children. Wilding and Cornish’s book, Attention, Developmental Disorders and Genes, is close to completion and will be published by Oxford University Press in New York.
Wilding, J., & Valentine, E. (1997). Superior memory. Hove, UK: Psychology Press.
Wilding, J. (2005). Is attention impaired in ADHD? British Journal of Developmental Psychology, 23, 487-505.
Wilding, J. M., & Valentine, E. R. (2006). Exceptional memory. In: K. A. Ericsson, N. Charness, R. Hoffman, and P. Feltovich (Eds.), Cambridge handbook of expertise and expert performance (pp. 539–554). Cambridge: C.U.P.
Cornish, K., & Wilding J. M. (2009). Attention, Developmental Disorders and Genes. New York: O.U.P.
Anders K. Ericsson received his Ph.D. in Psychology from the University of Stockholm, Sweden, after defending his research into problem solving. He moved on to the Institute of Aviation Medicine, where he did work relating to human factors applications before beginning a 3-year postdoctoral fellowship under Herbert Simon and Bill Chase at Carnegie-Mellon University. Following this, he became an Assistant Professor at the University of Colorado’s Department of Psychology.
Though he spent 2 years at the Max-Planck Institute for Development and Education in Berlin, he would remain at Colorado until 1993 when he became a Conradi Eminent Scholar and Professor of Psychology at Florida State University. He remains at Florida State University, having taken his sabbatical year at the Center of Advanced Study in the Behavioral Sciences at Stanford. Ericsson is a Fellow of the American Psychological Association and the Association for Psychological Science.
Ericsson has been actively investigating how thinking, reasoning, and planning mediate problem solving, learning, and skilled performance. More specifically, he has examined how experts gain their skill in particular areas. In the course of his research, Ericsson has studied expertise in numerous domains, including music, science, golf, darts, chess, Shakespeare, and restaurant waiting. Additionally, he and his collaborator, Bill Chase, looked at how practice enhances memory for digits. By asking his participants to report on the processes used in the previous trial, Ericsson and Chase were able to reconstruct how their participants structured their memories. The result was their Theory of Skilled Memory. Additional evidence comes from online verbal reports, in which participants narrate their current thoughts aloud, a procedure that Ericsson summarized in Protocol Analysis: Verbal Reports as Data.
Ericsson and Lehmann reviewed the literature in 1996, concluding that experts tend to be superior only in their specialized domain thanks mainly to practice, and with little generalizability. While practice results in dramatic improvements in early training, eventually, generalized practice suffers from diminishing returns. Those who are to become experts pursue specific tutelage in particular aspects of their domain of interest. This deliberate practice serves to differentiate true experts from those who don’t quite obtain that level of performance, as reported in Ericsson’s 1993 Psychological Review article.
Ericsson’s work has also provided evidence that experts selectively encode relevant information into working memory during difficult feats involving their skill set. They are then able to manipulate this information in ways that allow for planning, evaluation, and reasoning. Thus, not only do experts have more accumulated knowledge than do novices, they organize it in ways inherently locked into domain-related concepts, allowing for easy retrieval.
Ericsson has written numerous books on the subject of expertise and skill learning, including Toward a General Theory of Expertise, The Road to Excellence: The Acquisition of Expert Performance in the Arts and Sciences, Sports and Games, Expert Performance in Sports, and, recently, The Cambridge Handbook of Expertise and Expert Performance.
Ericsson, K. A. (2006). Protocol analysis and expert thought: Concurrent verbalizations of thinking during experts’ performance on representative task. In K. A. Ericsson, N. Charness, P. Feltovich, and R. R. Hoffman (Eds.). Cambridge handbook of expertise and expert performance (pp. 223–242). Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press.
Ericsson, K. A. (2006). The influence of experience and deliberate practice on the development of superior expert performance. In K. A. Ericsson, N. Charness, P. Feltovich, and R. R. Hoffman (Eds.). Cambridge handbook of expertise and expert performance (pp. 685–706). Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press.
Ericsson, K. A., & Kintsch, W. (1995). Long-term working memory. Psychological Review, 102(2), 211–245.
Peter Edwin Morris
Peter Edwin Morris was born in Birmingham, England on November 13, 1947 where he would attend the George Dixon Grammar School. He moved to Weston-super-Mare in 1961, prompting his switch to the Weston-super-Mare Boys Grammar School. Morris attended Exeter University from 1966–1969, earning his B.A. combined honors in philosophy and psychology. He stayed at Exeter for his Ph.D. work, for which he was awarded his diploma in 1972. His first academic post was at the Open University as a Lecturer. After 2 years, he transitioned to Lancaster University where he has remained through the present time, rising to full Professor of Psychology in 1989.
Morris has served as president and vice president of the British Psychological Society in the early 1990s, in addition to other positions within the body.
Morris’s primary research interests relate to memory and, especially, improving memory and learning. Morris has noted that the common practice of compiling the first letter of each to-be-remembered item as a mnemonic strategy is only helpful when the items are well known and serial order is important. As such, Morris has refocused the attention of memory researchers on other types of mnemonic strategies, many of which have been around for centuries (e.g., the pegword strategy), to serve in a variety of situations. Specifically, Morris began by studying the influence of mental imagery as a mnemonic aid, and also the nature of imagery more generally, and then turned to other mnemonic methods. For example, one can become dramatically better at learning people’s names if one forms an imageable substitute for the name and then links a prominent feature of the person’s face to that imageable substitute.
More recently, he has been interested in expanding retrieval practice and memory improvement methods that exploit it, such as the name game. Expanding retrieval practice refers to a flexible strategy in which a new item is first tested following a brief delay in order to minimize the chance that it will be forgotten, further strengthening it via the generation effect. As the item becomes better learned, the delays are increased, so as to benefit from the spacing effect. Morris has demonstrated that this method is vastly superior to even the imagery mnemonic for names. Moreover, he and his collaborators have accumulated substantial evidence indicating that retrieval practice, with appropriate feedback, is also effective in myriad contexts, including text and language learning, and is appropriate for preschool-aged children on up to adults. He is currently working on developing software to incorporate retrieval practice into statistics training.
Morris’s interest in memory improvement led to his helping to convene the first and the second International Practical Aspects of Memory conferences (1978, 1987) and also to an interest in remembering in everyday life (e.g., soccer scores) and eyewitness testimony—which relates to his interest in false memory and face recognition research.
In addition, Morris and his collaborator, Catherine Fritz, have also been investigating the part-set cuing phenomenon, in which presenting a subset of a broader category/list of items has been found to impair, rather than facilitate, one’s ability to recall the other elements in the set.
Morris has a general interest in applicable research, encouraging him to broaden out into some other research areas, such as psychological issues relating to commercial diving. Morris has also turned his attention to the development of effective study skills. His five-step SQ3R method (Study, Question, Read, Recite, and Review) encourages the learner to be an active participant in the study process, which is one reason the technique has proven so effective.
Morris, P. E., & Stevens, R. (1974). Linking images and free recall. Journal of Verbal Learning and Verbal Behaviour, 13, 310–315.
Morris, P. E., Tweedy, M., & Gruneberg, M. M. (1985). Interest, knowledge and the memorizing of soccer scores. British Journal of Psychology, 76, 417–425.
Morris, P. E., & Fritz, C. O. (2002). The improved name game: Better use of expanding retrieval practice. Memory, 10, 259–266.
Morris, P. E., Fritz, C. O., Jackson, L., Nichol, E., & Roberts, E. (2005). Strategies for learning proper names: Expanding retrieval practice, meaning and imagery. Applied Cognitive Psychology, 19, 779–798.
Morris, P. E., & Gruneberg, M. (Eds.) (1994). Theoretical aspects of memory. London: Routledge.
Hampson, P. J., & Morris, P. E. (1996). Understanding cognition. Oxford: Blackwells.
Smyth, M. M., Collins, A., Morris, P. E., & Levy, P. M. (1994). Cognition in action (2nd ed.). Hove, UK: Psychology Press.