Encoding: Getting Information In & How We Encode

Topic: Encoding: Getting Information In & How We Encode

Posted by: Min

Key Terms:

  • Automatic processing:Unconscious encoding of incidental information, such as space, time and frequency, and of well-learned information, such as word meanings.
  • Effortful Processing:Encoding that requires attention and conscious effort.
  • Rehearsal:the conscious repetition of information, either to maintain it in consciousness or to encode it for storage.
  • Spacing effect:the tendency fordistributedstudy or practice to yield better long-term retention than is achieved through massed study or practice.
  • Serial Position Effect:our tendency to recall best last and first items in a list.


How We Encode:

In terms of how we encode, there are two ways: automatic processing and effortful processing.

Automatic processing:

Often with little or no effort, people encode enormous amount of information. One example is when you lose your belongings, you try to remember where you put it and places where you went with your belongings. Even though one did not try to memories where one went specifically, one happened to know it. Little effort may help us retain such memories, yet they form almost automatically. We can also learn some automatic processing.


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First, reading this is effortful process but as we practice just like Hebrew students we can read this without effort which is automatic processing. Many memories for such materials may be boosted by effort, but our encoding is mostly automatic. We cannot switch it on and off at will.

Effortful Processing:

We can remember other types of information only with effort and attention. We can boost our memory through rehearsal, or conscious repetition. When we try to remember novel verbal information, we have to go through, effortful processing. This helps us to understand other phenomena:

  • The next line theory: It is easier for us to remember each others name when we are in circle than in one line.

  • Information presented in the hour before sleep, as we will see, is well remembered.

  • Without opportunity for rehearsal, “sleep learning” doesn’t occur. We also retain information better when our rehearsal is distributed over time, also known as spacing effect.

As people struggle to recall the list, they often demonstrate the serial position effect; they remember first and last thing better than the middle. Our memory system processes information not just by repetitive rehearsal but also by encoding its significance.

Podcast Summary:

Used "Crawl" by Linkin Park in intro and at the end.

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Related Videos and Pictures:

Encoding: Getting Information In & How We Encode - The Neuron

Encoding: Getting Information In & How We Encode - The Neuron

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