Psychology of Learning and Memory

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Cognitive psychology is often resorting to the notion of mood-congruent memory because the latter relates to memory retrieval and the process of encoding information. To access information, the brain matches the context of encoding to the context of retrieval and allows the person to gain access to the required information inside their brain (Veenstra et al., 2017). The best example of an instance of mood-congruent memory is the inability to remember why one makes a trip from one room to another but then suddenly remembers it when making the same trip again.

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The process of encoding memories is exceptionally important for humans since it is associated with lots of contextual information and a person’s emotions. When an individual goes through the process of encoding, they then have to achieve a similar state to restore the memory trace and access it with no obstacles (White et al., 2018). This is one of the main reasons why mood-congruent phenomena influence people with depression and generate a great deal of bias, averting people from retrieving certain memories.

Human attention is generally affected by emotions to a certain extent, motivating the individual to engage in certain behaviors from time to time. This process is also linked to human learning because the person in question has to focus on relevant information and overcome their attentional capacity to store and retrieve larger blocks of data (Moritz et al., 2018). The effect of emotion on learning can be characterized as both impairing and enhancing since there may be additional factors creating such ambiguity.

When a person observes other people, they get a chance to model attitudes, emotions, and behaviors. This is the cornerstone of Albert Bandura’s social learning theory and the description of observational learning. Despite a great deal of imitation, many individuals merely learn from the behaviors displayed by others (Khadivzadeh et al., 2017). In line with Horsburgh and Ippolito (2018), social learning would not be possible without the existence of four fundamental conditions: attention, retention, reproduction, and motivation. Each of them equally influences the learning process and exposes the individual to the need to adjust behaviors in line with the role model.

The concept of attention revolves around the idea that a person has to remain in a state of concentration for some time to learn from a model. There may be quite a few additional variables affecting the observer and averting them from learning appropriately since there are multiple sources of distraction (Williams, 2017). At the same time, retention requires the observer to remember everything they see in enough detail to be able to imitate it. In a sense, retention is a primary attempt to bring new knowledge from the short-term memory to its long-term counterpart.

In the case of reproduction, the observer has to possess the right abilities to copy the behavior. These requisite assets might relate to their mental and physical abilities, causing the observer to reach an internal state that will help them during the next stage (Illeris, 2018). Social learning would not be possible without the notion of motivation as well due to the fact that the lack of reason to imitate would cause the individual to cease any attempts of doing so. For example, the observer could expect certain rewards or reinforcements to remain motivated. The presence of reasoning behind certain actions makes it easier for people to learn and transfer knowledge.

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The human brain is one of the fascinating creations of nature since multiple secrets are still concealed under people’s craniums. Therefore, the process of gaining insight into how a person thinks, acts, and remembers information is rather complex and unstable. Since I am also still learning about memory daily, I believe that there will be even more ways of real-life applications of the human brain discovered in the future. As a superior cognitive process, the memory stands as a pillar of human mental organization and defines any given person’s existence (Vakil et al., 2018). Proper everyday functioning requires people to operate their past experiences in a number of important ways, such as encoding, storing, recalling, and retaining crucial information. The growing importance of continuity also has to be noted since memory should offer the given person a possibility to reuse their past and present experiences while ensuring that they have no problem addressing their past (Agarwal et al., 2017). Accordingly, the role of memory is fundamental and cannot be replaced by any other cognitive process.

Even though the human experience is subjective, human memory contains all kinds of human interactions because the person still needs an opportunity to showcase their intelligent reflection and, for example, avert themselves from remaking any past mistakes. One more essential finding is that memory is not singular and has to build connections between three essential processes: encoding, transforming and storing (Jensen et al., 2018). As soon as the person completes the first three stages, they will become able to maintain that information and retrieve or re-access it when necessary. During the learning process, a person tends to encode information, and the speed of this “conversion” affects the efficiency of an individual’s learning process. As an active process, encoding significantly depends on environmental factors, content factors, and material-related factors (Beroun et al., 2019). Knowing about the subjective nature of one’s memory, it may be safe to talk about how the degree of organization and the overall volume of information could avert the person from applying their memory properly. At the same time, the process of encoding would be relatively easy if the person in question were familiar with the required information to a certain extent.

Another important concept that has to be mentioned when discussing the importance of memory is the socio-emotional climate and quite a few other factors that could prevent an individual from engaging in a healthy learning session. With so many particularities at hand, memory has to be perceived as an inextricable part of human learning because the encoding process cannot be overlooked (Lola & Tzetzis, 2020). The selective nature of storing information also adds to the complexity of human memory because obtained data has to be reorganized, transformed, and interlinked rather quickly. This is where the notions of short- and long-term memory arise and create a connection between the fidelity and duration of information retention. This means that all the information collected by the human brain is quickly processed and divided into trivial and important categories (Chen et al., 2018). Therefore, essential portions of information are stored in long-term memory since the individual comes back to them relatively often. This is the main reason why information consolidation has to be completed recurrently to stabilize the material available to the individual and reprocess it respectively.

When a person expects to retrieve certain information, they are almost always caught up in a situation where they have to train their recognition and recall to get back to past experiences and make the right decision in the present. I believe this process to be an essential part of human life since we have to encounter numerous comparisons throughout the lifespan, from multiple choice questions during a test to recognizing a person’s face. Without the recall capability, information will not be uncovered from memory, as there will not be enough entry points to restore the path to that particular piece of evidence (Bessières et al., 2020). When a person is involved in recognition, their only task is to evaluate their familiarity with the given information and assess multiple retrieved items from the point of their awareness. The overall complexity of the encoding process makes it essential to come back to training memory from time to time and achieve such environmental conditions that would resolve possible conflicts within the human brain (Tarasov, 2020). In other words, similarities between the retrieval and encoding settings would benefit the person in question.

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The forgetting curve cannot go unnoticed here as well, since memory cannot remain perfect in all cases and individuals have to rely on their characteristics to become able to memorize information more effectively. I have learned that repetition is one of the critical phenomena that contribute to a stronger memory, and it motivates me to spend more time reading lecture materials and creating markers that would help me recall certain information much quicker. In the words of van Kesteren et al. (2018), this process is not intuitive, as it requires the person to reiterate their actions to achieve improvements. The complexity of the given material does not have that much of an impact on the learning process because the key role is assigned to repetition “recipes” that work for a certain individual. For example, there may be logical connections established between markers for people who prefer mechanical repetition (Kalra et al., 2019). Memory and learning can be deemed interconnected because most of the new knowledge is created through the interface of association.

To conclude, I would like to dwell on the ways of improving memory efficiency that I have learned during the course. The fundamental approach to memorizing something requires the person to practice and repeat since it helps reinforce the key points and build on them. One more strategy is to memorize information differently depending on the data that has to be remembered: for instance, in the form of text, flowcharts, images, or tables. Nevertheless, an essential strategy is to gain a better understanding of what has to be memorized since mindless cramming would only affect short-term memory (Duan et al., 2021). The presence of a background knowledge base protects people from forgetting newly learned things because their brain processes something familiar, and processes in the brain respond in a positive way to such experience. Irrespective of the method utilized to memorize information, it is still added to the human memory even if the individual is not aware of it.

References

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Beroun, A., Mitra, S., Michaluk, P., Pijet, B., Stefaniuk, M., & Kaczmarek, L. (2019). MMPs in learning and memory and neuropsychiatric disorders. Cellular and Molecular Life Sciences, 76(16), 3207-3228.

Bessières, B., Travaglia, A., Mowery, T. M., Zhang, X., & Alberini, C. M. (2020). Early life experiences selectively mature learning and memory abilities. Nature Communications, 11(1), 1-16.

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van Kesteren, M. T. R., Krabbendam, L., & Meeter, M. (2018). Integrating educational knowledge: Reactivation of prior knowledge during educational learning enhances memory integration. NPJ Science of Learning, 3(1), 1-8.

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Lola, A. C., & Tzetzis, G. (2020). Analogy versus explicit and implicit learning of a volleyball skill for novices: The effect on motor performance and self-efficacy. Journal of Physical Education and Sport, 20(5), 2478-2486.

Moritz, S., Schneider, B. C., Peth, J., Arlt, S., & Jelinek, L. (2018). Metacognitive Training for Depression (D-MCT) reduces false memories in depression. A randomized controlled trial. European Psychiatry, 53, 46-51.

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White, C. N., Liebman, E., & Stone, P. (2018). Decision mechanisms underlying mood-congruent emotional classification. Cognition and Emotion, 32(2), 249-258.

Williams, K. (2017). Using social learning theory to engage adults through extension education. NACTA Journal, 61(3), 263-264.

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PsychologyWriting. (2022, July 2). Psychology of Learning and Memory. Retrieved from https://psychologywriting.com/psychology-of-learning-and-memory/

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PsychologyWriting. (2022, July 2). Psychology of Learning and Memory. https://psychologywriting.com/psychology-of-learning-and-memory/

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PsychologyWriting. (2022) 'Psychology of Learning and Memory'. 2 July.

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PsychologyWriting. 2022. "Psychology of Learning and Memory." July 2, 2022. https://psychologywriting.com/psychology-of-learning-and-memory/.

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