Friday, 10 March 2017

What is the Constructive Nature of Long-Term Memory?

Our long-term memories are seldom exact reproductions of our experiences. In fact, memories change considerably over time. According to Loftus (1979), long-term memories tend to be generative rather than purely reproductive.

Constructive Memory
In the words of Schacter, Norman, and Koutstaal (1998), long-term memory is constructive memory. Essentially, this means that much of what we remember is modified by intervening events and dulled by the passage of time.

What is “Constructive Memory”?

It is an alternate label for long-term memory. It is meant to emphasize the extent to which remembering involves reconstructing experiences. With the passage of time, we tend to remember less and less accurately.

One characteristics of long-term memory (that might explain its constructive nature) is that our memories appear to be scattered in many parts of our brains.
Studies using positron emission tomography or magnetic resonance imaging (imaging techniques that can reveal location and patterns of neural activity in the brain) indicate that there is not just one single memory trace for each item that we remember.
As a result, long-term remembering is a process of retrieving from different brain locations isolated features of the experience we are recalling and putting them together in a sort of pattern-completion process.

Positron Emission Tomography: 

Also referred to as a PET Scan. It is a medical diagnostic technique and research tool that can be used to provide computer-enhanced images of body structures and of neurological functioning. It is a power tool for brain and memory research.

 Magnetic Resonance Imaging: 

Popularly referred to as MRI. It is a powerful medical diagnostic tool that makes use of computer-enhanced images of magnetic fields in the body to reveal details about physical and neurological structure and functioning. It is highly useful for brain and memory research.

Influences on Long-Term Memory:

Not all of our long-term memories are subject to distortions and inventions. Highly significant emotional experiences sometimes give rise to long-lasting and remarkably detailed flashbulb memories.

What is "Flashbulb Memory"?

It is unusually vivid and relatively permanent recollections of the details surrounding first hearing some emotionally significant news.

What is "Eidetic Image"?

It is a particularly vivid type of visual image in memory. In many ways, it is as though the individual were actually able to look at what is being remembered—hence the synonym photographic memory.

Several factors appear to be directly related to how clearly and how long we are likely to remember things. For example, highly arousing (emotionally important events) are far more likely to be remembered. In fact, the most dramatic of these may lead to flashbulb memories.
Long-term memory is also influenced by understanding. With our highly constructive memories, we tend to remember the gist of what happened (or of what we heard or read) rather than all its details. That is, we tend to remember meanings, central ideas.
Long-term memory also appears to be influenced by certain drugs and other substance, such as ethanol (the kind of alcohol found in beer and wine) or temazepam (a relatively common anti-anxiety or tranquilizing drug). Both of these drugs mark negative effects on long-term memory.
Interestingly, increased oxygen intake appears to have a measurably positive effect on long-term memory, although increased glucose intake does not.

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