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Memory glossary
Category: Health and Medicine > memory
Date & country: 07/10/2007, UK
Words: 274

Recency Effect
[See firstly serial position effect.] Superior performance on the late list items in a free recall learning task. [See serial position effect and compare primacy effect.]

Receptor Sites
Points on the post-synaptic neural cell membrane where neurotransmitters can 'bind' chemically, and thus cause post-synaptic potential to appear.

[See firstly recall.] Form of LTM retrieval involving awareness of past encounter, such as when having to judge words or pictures as having previously been presented.

[See firstly explanatory gap.] A philosophical doctrine predicated upon the assertion that complex sociocultural and psychological phenomena can ultimately be explained in terms of underlying chemical or physiological processes [and far from universally supported].

Follower of Reductionism as a philosophical school and set of explanatory principles.

Refractory Period
[See firstly action potential.] Period of inexcitability at a given point on the neural cell membrane during the repolarisation phase after an action potential. Helps (a) to limit the number of times per second that a given neuron can fire, and (b) to prevent antidromic conduction.

The repeating of memory test material to oneself, either out loud or subvocally using the faculty of inner speech. Explicitly suppressed by the interpolated activity task(s) in studies using the Brown-Peterson technique to investigate the serial position effect. In fact, Craik and Lockhart (1972) pr

The interaction between the entities dealt with by a system [source]. Alternatively, 'the way in which two or more entities are dependent on each other' (Kramer and de Smit, 1977:15). 'A relation exists 'if a change in a property of one entity results in a change in a property of another entity'' (K

The psychodynamic theory of forgetting. Holds that memories can be deliberately lost/suppressed if they contain ego-threatening material.

Resource Allocation Theory
See dedicated support article. Resource Allocation Theory is Norman and Bobrow's (1975) early vision of the brain as a computational system responsible for 'executing' mental 'programs' and allocating mental 'resources'. The term 'supervisory system' came along slightly later, when the concept of li

Resting Potential
The neural resting potential is an electrostatic potential difference between the inside of a cell (the cytoplasm) and its surrounding fluid medium (the interstitial fluid). It arises from the operation and interaction of three complex and conflicting factors, namely random molecular movement, metab

The act of accessing the information stored in memory.

Retrieval Structure
See long-term working memory.

Retroactive Interference
A type of interference, specifically, the deleterious effect of newly memorised material on previous memory contents. [Contrast proactive interference.]

This is a small granular organelle, of which several thousand may be present in a given cell, congregating especially on the membranous walls of the endoplasmic reticulum. It is the place where single molecules of protein can be synthesised.

Rote Learning
[See firstly Bloom's Six Levels of Knowledge.] Learning lists or definitions 'off by heart' (that is to say, with little concentration on understanding). A good method of surface learning, therefore, and of little practical utility in the modern world.

Routine Neurological Examination
Portfolio of simple bedside tests [eg. orienting] carried out by doctors, etc., as part of everyday healthcare in order to screen for or assess nervous system problems.

Saltatory Conduction
[See firstly resting potential and action potential.] A biologically cost-efficient method of rapid conduction of an action potential along a myelinated axon, by allowing it to 'jump' from one node of Ranvier to the next. The point is that the myelin sheathing of the axon between each node of Ranvie

Although little is known about the mind's way of representing propositional knowledge, two approaches have been particularly influential over the years. The first of these is the very long-standing Associationist tradition, and the second is Head's (1926) concept of the 'schema'. The former derives

Schwann Cell
An oligodendrocyte, that is to say, a glial cell with relatively few cell processes, responsible for the myelination of neural tissue (myelin is a protein-phospholypid derived from the oligodendrocyte's cell wall).

[See firstly story memory.] Within the context of Schank and Abelson's theories, a script is 'a structure that describes an appropriate sequence of events in a particular context' (Schank and Abelson, 1977, p422). Alternatively, it is an expectation 'about what will happen next in a well understood

Script Execution
[See firstly script and executive function.] Chevignard et al's (2000/2003 online) term for the execution-and-monitoring component of executive function (which, incidentally, they suspect is a better index of dysexecutive syndrome than tests of planning per se).

Script Recitation Task
[See firstly executive function and dysexecutive syndrome.] DETAIL TO FOLLOW. Godbout and Doyon (1995).

Script Theory
[See firstly script and script execution.] Schank and Abelson's analysis of memory structures.

Second Messenger Neurotransmission
[See firstly neurotransmission.] There seem to be two classes of receptor site involved in successful neurotransmission. The protein molecules making up the ion channels are directly coupled receptors, and are structured so that the neurotransmitter molecule can bind directly with them, thus instant

Selective Permeability
EITHER a cell membrane where the pores are not big enough to allow all particles through, OR a membrane where metabolic pumping is taking place. The nerve membrane is semi-permeable because it allows small ions through but withholds the large protein anions

Self-Ordered Pointing Test
[See firstly executive function and dysexecutive syndrome.] The Self-Ordered Pointing Test is a simple test of the integrity of the working memory support component of human executive function, and, as such, is commonly included as a frontal battery test. The test was developed by Petrides and Milne

Semantic Memory
This is the name commonly given to our mental storehouse of conceptual (i.e. encyclopaedic) knowledge. As our perceptual memory and episodic memory gradually grow during infancy, they give rise to memory for meaning, thanks to the process of abstraction. For example, by the time an infant has seen a

Semantic Memory - Associative
[See firstly semantic memory and association.] The problem with semantic memory is that it soon acquires many thousands of unitary concepts. Another very basic neural process then takes place, allowing the association of concepts, one with another, turning what began as a simple concept store into o

Semantic Memory - Categorical
[See firstly semantic memory.] The process of abstraction also allows regularities amongst concepts to be detected, thus creating higher order classificatory concepts. Example

Semantic Memory - Propositional
[See firstly semantic memory and proposition.] It is also possible for agent and object concepts (nouns) to join with action concepts (verbs) to create simple assertions of truth such as 'Tom is a cat' and 'mice chew gloves'. These are known as propositions, and propositions are what start to turn L

Semantic Network
See semantic memory - associative.

Semantic Similarity Effect
[See firstly confusibility studies and semantic memory.] This is the name given to an LTM impairment when presented with semantically similar material. It was first detected by Baddeley (1966), who found that semantically similar sequences such as 'large-great-huge-long-big' were more prone to recal

Semantic System
Broadly speaking, a combination of pragmatics, semantic memory, and executive functions. [See the longer entry on this heading in our Psycholinguistics Glossary.]

Sensory Memory
Very short-term memory for input pattern or attribute, within a particular perceptual channel. Visual sensory memory tends to be referred to as iconic memory, and auditory as echoic memory.

Serial Position Curve
See serial position effect.

Serial Position Effect
[See firstly Brown-Peterson technique.] This is the name given to the characteristic U-shaped curve obtained by plotting the probability of retrieval of an item from a series against its position within that series. The raised wings of the U reflect distinct memory advantages to the early and late i

Six ElementsTest
[See firstly executive function and dysexecutive syndrome.] The Six Elements Test is a simple test of the integrity of the planning-execution components of human executive function, and, as such, is commonly included as a frontal battery test. The test was developed by Shallice and Burgess (1991), a

Slave Systems
[See firstly Working Memory Theory.] Term introduced by Baddeley and Hitch (1974) for the hypothetical structures which provide specific (as opposed to ad hoc) memory resources to the central executive. Two specific slave systems were proposed, namely the articulatory loop and the visuo-spatial sket

Sodium Pump
[See firstly cell membrane and metabolic pumping.] A sodium pump is a complex molecular tube spanning all four layers of the neural cell membrane. It operates by taking sodium ions from the neuroplasm, transporting them along its length, and depositing them outside the cell in the interstitial fluid

See Self-Ordered Pointing Test.

Story Memory
Schank elevates the story, and everything which goes with it - story telling, story understanding, and story reconstruction - to a position of central importance in human cognition

Stroop Test
[See firstly executive function and dysexecutive syndrome.] DETAIL TO FOLLOW

Supervisory System
[See firstly central executive and Resource Allocation Theory.] Term coined by Norman and Shallice (1980) in their discussion of the cognitive mechanisms of planned action, and one of the basic proposals of the resulting Norman-Shallice Model of Supervisory Attentional Function. The model proposes i

Surface Learning
[See firstly Bloom's Six Levels of Knowledge.] Term coined by Marton and Saljo (1976a,b) to characterise the relatively mindless learning of lists and repetitions. [Contrast deep learning.]

A symbol is that which 'stands for' something else. Words are symbols for concepts, and concepts are themselves representations of this or that external entity. Naming a concept allows one to communicate it to others, although for the recipient(s) of a name to attach precisely the same meaning to th

A junction between two neurons. The point where a synaptic button from the transmitting (or 'pre-synaptic) neuron touches the neural membrane of the receiving (or 'post-synaptic') neuron. Each neuron receives synaptic input from many other neurons. [See also synapse, locations and synapse, mechanism

Synapse, Locations
The pre-synaptic neuron at a given synapse can touch the post-synaptic neuron at any point, and there are names to describe the various options.

Synapse, Mechanisms
Synapses are the sites where chemical neurotransmission takes place. Whether a given neurotransmitter has an excitatory or an inhibitory effect depends upon the chemical reaction at, and therefore the nature of, the binding site. Acetylcholine, for example, has an excitatory effect on skeletal muscl

Synaptic Button
Enlargement of the axon or telodendrion of a pre-synaptic neuron at the point where it butts against the post-synaptic neuron.

Synaptic Cleft
The gap between the two neurons at a given synapse.

Synaptic Learning
The creation of networks of neurons to act as engrams by linking them together via their synapses. One of the first to suggest that learning was accompanied by the formation of new synaptic connections was Santiago Ramon Y Cajal (eg. 1911). The general idea was that synapses made it possible for neu

Synaptic Vesicle
Small 'bubble' filled with neurotransmitter within the neuroplasm of a synaptic button. When an action potential arrives it prompts these vesicles to move to the surface of the cell where they burst and release their contents into the synaptic cleft.

Tests of Planning in Daily Life
[See firstly executive function and dysexecutive syndrome.] See Activities of Daily Living Test.

See Trail Making Test.

Tower of Hanoi
[See firstly executive function and dysexecutive syndrome.] This test is described in Section 5 of our e-paper 'From Frontal Lobe Syndrome to Dysexecutive Syndrome'.

Tower of London
[See firstly executive function and dysexecutive syndrome.] This test is described in Section 6 of our e-paper 'From Frontal Lobe Syndrome to Dysexecutive Syndrome'.

Trail Making Test (TMT)
[See firstly executive function and dysexecutive syndrome.] This test was devised by Reitan and Wolfson (1985), and requires patients to join up specified sequences of letters and/or numbers printed randomly across a test page. The test comes in two parts. Part A requires only that patients connect

[See firstly encoding.] Term popularised by McCarthy and Warrington (1984) to describe the act of changing from one basis of encoding to another during information processing, a process which is clearly seen in the Ellis (1982) flow diagram. [See now transcoding model.]

Transcoding Model
A box-and-arrow model of the longitudinal cognitive system, which attempts to identify (a) the processing modules involved, and (b) the points where transcoding takes place. If restricted to the language processing system, the model in question necessarily has to show inputs separate from outputs an

Triplex Model of Memory
[See firstly consolidation and Duplex Model of Memory] Any 'three-box' model of memory which separates sensory memory, STM, and LTM. Better known as the Modal Model of Memory.

Utilisation Behaviour
A clinical sign of impulsivity deficit in dysexecutive syndrome. Attempting to pick up and use lure objects, despite instructions not to. Indicates that perceptual stimulation is being routed to, and capable of activating, motor schema selection processes WITHOUT going through any higher control pro

Very Short-Term Memory
Same as sensory memory.

Visual Input Lexicon
Term popularised by Ellis and Young (1988) for the mental storehouse for whole textual word forms. [For further details see the longer entry under the same heading in our Psycholinguistics Glossary.]

Visuo-Spatial Sketchpad Subsystem
This is Baddeley and Hitch's (1974) second proposed slave system [the first being the articulatory loop]. It is the hypothetical structure which allows you to 'rehearse pictures', as it were, and its key emphasis is accordingly upon the role of imagery in memory. Now the point about imagery is that

Voltage-Dependant Gating
This is the sensitivity of a neuron's sodium pumps to the membrane potential surrounding them, the point being that the pumping (or 'gating') only carries on while said potential is within pre-set limits. When the local potential reaches the action potential threshold, the metabolic pumping suddenly

See Wisconsin Card Sorting Test.

See Word Fluency Test.

Wisconsin Card Sorting Test (WCST)
[See firstly executive function and dysexecutive syndrome.] This test was developed in 1948 (Berg, 1948; Grant and Berg, 1948), and became popular after a positive review by Milner (1963), which pinpointed the dorsolateral frontal cortex. The patient is presented with a shuffled pack of 128 cards, t

See working memory, general.

Word Fluency Test (WFT)
This test is described in Section 5 of our e-paper 'From Frontal Lobe Syndrome to Dysexecutive Syndrome'.

Word Length Effect
See articulatory loop.

Working Memory Theory (WMT)
Term/theory introduced by Baddeley and Hitch (1974), inspired metaphorically by the working storage facility provided in electronic digital computers [as fully reviewed in our e-paper on 'Short-Term Memory Subtypes in Computing and Artificial Intelligence', Part 6 (Section 3.3)]. WMT was proposed as

Working Memory, General (WMG)
[See firstly Working Memory Theory.] This is Baddeley and Hitch's (1974) general purpose STM resource. It is the hypothetical structure which sits alongside the two slave systems in the service of the central executive. Unlike those slave systems, however, it is not possible to predict in advance th