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Explanations of forgetting: Interference, context, amnesia, facial recognition & eyewitness testimony

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Faisal Ahmed

on 17 November 2015

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Transcript of Explanations of forgetting: Interference, context, amnesia, facial recognition & eyewitness testimony

It has also been found that things we already know can cause problems when trying to learn new information.

This is called
proactive interference

Proactive Interference
Both groups were asked to recall the first list of word pairs.

Group B’s recall of the first list was more accurate than Group A

new learning interfered with participants’ ability to recall the first list
Homework – research task
Multi store model mobile
Poster on interference
Information on three models of memory
Design a study to test proactive interference! It might be similar to Underwood and Postman’s?

Could be completely different!

to see if new learning interferes with previous learning

participants were divided into two groups:

Group A – asked to learn a list of word pairs (e.g., CAT – TREE). They were then asked to learn a second set of word pairs (e.g. CAT – PLUG)
Group B – asked to learn the first list only.
Underwood and Postman (1960)
New things that we learn can cause problems when we try to recall information that we learned before.

This is called
retroactive interference

for example, when someone who speaks French tries to learn German
Experiment time!!
Learning Objective:

To understand how interference can affect memory.
Forgetting - Interference
This research has been based on laboratory studies, using artificial tasks and therefore it cannot be applied to other people, places and settings.

This theory may explain why people find it difficult to learn two similar languages.
What causes us to forget things?

Can you think of a time when you could not remember something you thought you knew?

Discuss in pairs, write down your ideas as to why this might have happened…
Underwood and Postman thought that retroactive interference will be worse when there is a strong similarity between old and new information.
Can you think of something that might make this worse?
Home Learning for this week:

Revise for an assessment for the first part of the memory module next week.

Join the blog.

Underwood & Postman (1960)
I go mental every time you leave for work You never seem to know when to stop. I never know when you'll return; I'm in love with a robot. In the night call you up and wanna know when you're coming home.
Don't deny me, call me back I'm so alone. In the night wait up for you. Even though you don't want me to Go to bed and leave the lights on What's the use
Definition of memory
The three basic stages
Multi store model
Levels of processing
Reconstructive memory
He was unable to find his bedroom in the hospital

He could not recognise the doctors and nurses

H.M’s short term memory was normal; he could retain information for about 15 seconds without rehearsal and longer with rehearsal

He could not transfer information into his long term memory,
Group reading of the
HM case study
Case Study of HM
22 year old patient
Fell from motor bike and suffers severe concussion
X-Ray shoes no fracture of the skull
He could not recall any events that had happened two years before the event.
Russell and Nathan (1946)
Conduct a role-play to act out what happened to H.M. Before and after the surgery.

Write a song to a familiar tune to describe the H.M Case study.
In Your Groups
Explanations of Forgetting:
You could make your learning environment at home resemble the environment in which you are tested.

E.g. Always work at a desk rather than spreading your books on the bed

Groups 1 and 3 recalled 40% more words than groups 2 and 4.

Recall of information will be better if it happens in the same context that learning takes place.
Participants were deep sea divers. They were divided into four groups. All groups were given the same list of words to learn.

Group 1: learnt underwater and recalled underwater

Group 2: learnt underwater and recalled on shore

Group 3: learnt on shore and recalled on shore

Group 4: learnt on shore and recalled underwater
To see if people who learn and are tested in the same environment will recall more than those who learn and are tested in different environments.
Godden and Baddeley (1975)
Experiment time!!
Context is

Think of some more contexts...write them down.

What is Context?
Explanations of Forgetting
What do you think could be a practical application of this?

What are the benefits?

What are the drawbacks?
Practical applications
Humans and other mammals have two hippocampi, one in each side of the brain and plays important roles in the consolidation of information from short-term memory to long-term memory.
Can we devise a simple experiment which we can test the effect of the context upon recall of information?

We have at our disposal:

A list of 30 words
A classroom

We must use the following headers:

What factors do you think would affect someone’s account of a crime?

Talk in pairs for 5 minutes about the possible factors and make a list in your
Often we find that several people can describe the same event in different ways.

What if someone was a witness to a crime?

How do we know that what they say they saw, is actually what they saw?
Think of an event that you all remember. Maybe last lesson?

Write down:

What I was wearing?
How I did I have my hair?
Who was missing from the lesson?
Bruce and Young warned that facial processing is not just about recognising a face! It's also about emotion of the face and the age of the person.

Using a ‘photo fit’ may not be helpful because it is hard to remember just individual features of a face.

It's how the features work together that help us remember.
We do not see the whole face. We see a set of individual features: eyes, mouth, hairline, nose and everything else that makes up a face, separately.

From someone’s eyes or mouth we can tell if they are happy or sad.
Stage 1
Bruce and Young (1998)

Suggested that there were three separate stages in the process of looking at a face and remembering it.
How accurate are Eyewitness Testimonies?
Where we store all sorts of useful information about faces.

If someone smiles – happy
If someone cries – sad

Stored Facial Expressions
and Emotions
We use this mental picture where we ‘look up’ the face in our memory

This lets us know whether we have seen the person before or not.
Stage 3
We put all the parts together to form a whole face.

This gives us the ‘mental picture’ of the faces we are looking at.
Stage 2
Facial Recognition
those who were asked about the cars smashing were more likely to report having seen the broken glass.
What would you think now?
Imagine this:

Mr Singh makes an announcement in assembly for anyone to come forward who knows about who had been ringing the fire alarm bells every lunchtime.

You go to him with your information and before you say what you need to say, he asks:

‘which year 9 pupil did this?’


what colour were his trainers?
Discovered that questions can lead people distort their account of an incident.
Easy to replicate (repeat) because the researcher has control over the variables.

Lacks ecological validity because it cannot be applied to another situation – we are unlikely to watch a film of an accident.

Our emotions will be different if we were to see a real crash.
Can you think of any good and bad points?

It was a lab study so this means...
Even though they hadn’t been asked about the speed, 12% still reported to have seen glass.

What about the control group?
The independent variable was the verb that was used: hit/smashed.

The control group was not asked this question.

more participants in the ‘smashed’ group reported seeing broken glass.

split participants into 3 groups. They all watched a film of a traffic accident. They were then asked a number of questions about the film.

All the questions were the same except for the one question about the speed of the cars when the accident happened.
Loftus and Palmer (1974)
Leading questions
One week later all of the participants answered some more questions.

One of the key questions was whether they had seen any broken glass (there wasn’t any in the film).
What is a leading question?
Leading Questions Handout
6X7=42 13+4=17
3X9=27 19-8=11
8X5=40 9+6=15
4x8=32 22-13=9
17-6=11 9+5=14
a question phrased in a manner that tends to suggest the desired answer




Do Now
All of you have been handed a list of word pairs.

You have five minutes to memorise the word pairs.

Now the class has been divided into two groups; Group A and B. Group B will now
have a second list of word pairs to memorise...

you have four minutes.
Ok now Group A write down the word pairs you memorised form the first list.

Group B you will also write down the word pairs from the FIRST list that you memorised.
Count how many word pairs you
got right.

Overall which group will have correctly
identified more word pairs and
Can you now construct A, M, R, C for the experiment we just carried out? Work with your partner and see if
you can do it together.
Do Now
Let's take a look at an experiment
which looked at the effect of context
upon learning.
Each group has a leader. It is the group leader's responsibility to hand out the word lists to all participants for exactly five minutes before collecting them in.

Once all the word lists have been collected the leader is responsible for making sure all participants have exactly 5 minutes to write out the words in whichever context they have been allocated.
Do Now
Watch carefully
Brad Pitt
Angelina Jolie
Michael Jackson
Beyonce Knowles
Leonardo di Caprio
Two people were not recognised by any of you. Why?
Make a flow chart of the three stages in your books
Do Now
What's wrong with Mr.Singh's line of questioning?
Talk to your partner and see if you can define the term 'leading question
Key definition:
to test the effect of leading questions on a person’s recall.
Loftus & Palmer (1974)
Loftus & Palmer (1974)
This is due to the leading question, just because it was asked about, they assumed it was there.
Next lesson...

We will look at amnesia; if you want to do some background reading; google 'Patient HM'
Next Lesson...

What is the effect of the environment in which information memorised.
Learning Objectives:

To be able to apply your knowledge of interference to exam questions.

To be able to describe the research by Underwood and Postman.

To able to identify retroactive and proactive interference.
Personal, Learning and Thinking skills:

Effective Participator

Reflective Learner
Literacy Focus:

To be able to write in continuous
What do you know?

Explain to your partner the difference between retroactive and proactive interference using examples.
Extension Question: Can you think of three real life scenarios where human beings may suffer either retroactive or proactive interference.
Learning Objective:

To understand how brain damage can affect memory.
Learning Outcomes:

To be able to distinguish between retrograde and anterograde amnesia.

To be able to describe the case study of H.M.

To be able to identify retrograde and anterograde amnesia.
Personal, Learning and Thinking skills:
Reflective Learner

Independent Enquirer
Literacy Focus:

To use language which is appropriate for purpose and audience.
Refer to handout
Do Now

What is amnesia?

How does it occur?
You will perform your role plays.
What do you know?
Refer to handout entitled: Amnesia Case Studies.
Please answer all questions and assess your partner's responses.
Learning Objective:

To understand how context can affect memory.

Forgetting - Context
Learning Objectives:

To be able to explain Godden and Baddeley's experiment.

To be able to recreate Godden and Baddeley's experiment in a school setting.

To be able define the word 'context'.
Personal, Learning and Thinking skills:

Self Manager

Team Worker
Literacy Focus:

To be able to distinguish between
there and their.
The teacher will not talk during this entire lesson. Lead learners will lead and everyone must self manage.

The work must be completed by the end of
the lesson.
Test your Partner
Ask your partner a series of questions. Use the
learning outcomes as your success criteria:
To be able to explain Godden and Baddeley's experiment.

To be able to recreate Godden and Baddeley's experiment in a school setting.

To be able define the word 'context'.
Learning Objective:

To explore facial recognition and how it can affect eyewitness testimony.

Forgetting - Faces
Learning Objectives:

To be able to explain what else can be learnt from a person's face.

To be able to describe how facial recognition works in the human brain.

To be able to identify the three stages of facial recognition.
Personal, Learning and Thinking skills:

Self Manager

Creative Thinker
Literacy Focus:

To ensure all sentences end
with appropriate
Now It's your turn...

You have three copies of Cara Delevingne. Create the three stage process through pictures.
Learning Objective:

To investigate the effect of leading questions on eyewitness testimony.

Forgetting - Context
Learning Objectives:

To be able to evaluate Loftus and Palmer's experiment including reference to ecological validity.

To describe Loftus and Palmer's experiment.

To be bale to define the term 'leading question'.
Personal, Learning and Thinking skills:

Effective Participator

Reflective Learner
Literacy Focus:

To be able to write in continuous
Experiment Time
Watch the following video and answer the questions on the slip of paper in front of you.

Do not confer with your partner nor share responses with anyone in the room.
Research Loftus and Palmer and present
three evaluation points including a
definition for ecological validity.
Where the patient will be unable to recall events that happened
the amnesia developed.
The loss of memory of what happens
the amnesia develops.
Brain Damage
Now it's your turn:

Make a short video showcasing either
type of amnesia.
Make sure you edit using iMovie
What are all of these?
the general setting in which
we learn.
Use the card to create a mask which only shows your eyes and lips.
We have a special guest star coming to
work out who is behind the mask!
"I can't rememeber his face clearly but that's what I think he looked like!"
Jane, eyewitness to a murder.

Key Question
Use your knowledge of the facial recognition theory to explain why Jane will never be able to accurately recall the killer's face.
(4 marks)
If you really want a challenge, tell me about how schemas and leading questions affect eyewitness testimony!
Go further...
According to Bruce and Young's theory, we store mental pictures of faces in our memory.
(1 mark)

When you meet someone you focus on their distinct individual features
(1 mark)
and then you put all the parts together to form a whole face; forming a mental picture
(1 mark)
. Finally you look up the face in your memory
(1 mark)

If you have never meet someone before you do not have a mental picture, you have to make a new one
(1 mark)

That's why Jane cannot accurately recall the Killer's face
(1 mark)

Full transcript