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Cognition: Lecture 6 Memory should be viewed “…not as the ability to accurately revive impressions once obtained, but as the integration of impressions into the whole personality and their revival according to the needs of the whole personality” (Rappaport, 1952/1961) i. e. accuracy is not always desirable
Cognition: Lecture 6 • Today’s topics: – Martin Conway’s autobiographical memory model incorporating the ‘working self’ – Revision / Summary of key points from each lecture
Mc. Carthy and Hodge’s Patient P. S. • 67 year old stroke victim – Severe retrograde amnesia and dense anterograde amnesia! • ‘A delusion more compelling than rational thought’ – P. S. lived as if he was in the early 1940 s. – His delusion was resistant to contrary evidence and argument.
Memory & Self: Common Sense vs. Cognitive Views • Common sense perspective: – Memory only provides information to the Self • Reflecting the distinction between nature (what is essential, there from birth onwards) vs. nurture (the acquired personality) • The Self is ‘essential’ • Cognitive perspective: – There is no ‘essence’, just personality – Personality is acquired via experience – Past experiences shape your ‘self-image’
An Example of a Self-Image • I am: – – – – 20 years old (it is 2008) I am a student at Aberdeen Uni. I am not married I have no kids I am a party animal who loves clubbing All my friends are students I am aware of the latest crop of great bands and musicians • These features reflect a constellation of facts all derived from memory, that reinforce a single, stable, coherent Self-image. • To achieve coherence, certain facts may need to be forgotten, or at least rendered difficult to access! (e. g. you may not have looked at music charts for months).
Conway’s Model The Self Memory System (SMS) has two principle components: • 1. Autobiographical knowledge base – organised specifically to support our sense of self • 2. The (working) Self – comprises a goal hierarchy, and various other internal mechanisms
‘Self’ Autobiographical Knowledge Base Self-related semantic knowledge Abstracted from specific experiences Episodic Memory tied to specific experiences (e. g. the CMF) Encoding Consolidation Retrieval
Take a peek inside yourself… Goal Hierarchy Conceptual Self Episodic Memory (CMF) Autobiographical Knowledge Base semantic knowledge Key point: the SMS system is ‘goal-driven’
The SMS greatly extends the CMF • Conway: “all daily experiences are destined to be forgotten” – Unless they support longer-term goals • In the short term, accurate memories are vital – Where did I leave my keys • In the long-term, coherence (between goals) is vital – The ‘Husband-Hermit’ or ‘Saint-Sinner’ dilemma
SMS Goals • Short term (e. g. daily) – Take the car for a service… – Find the keys… – Post the letter… Overriding principle: accuracy! • Long-term – – – Get a job Learn how to drive Buy a house Become a solitary religious hermit Be a loving husband Potential for conflict! • Overriding principle: coherence But: there is an accuracy-coherence trade-off!
How is the trade-off achieved? • The goal hierarchy acts to maintain a stable and coherent set of short and long term goals Goal Hierarchy Eat and drink (everyday) Keep warm (everyday) Have a conversation (most days) Watch TV (particular times) Find the car keys (in 5 minutes) Avoid tripping up (when I walk) Post the letter (sometime today) Dentist appointment (this week) Revise (next month) Obtain graduation ball tickets (next few months) Find a less annoying partner (yesterday!) Get a 2: 1 (next couple of years) Loose weight (before going on holiday)
The SMS: key points • New memories are not formed ‘automatically’ from our experiences – But, experiences are always encoded (e. g. as per the CMF). • An ABM is formed (and retrieved) only when the (working) self interacts with the autobiographical knowledge base – Such interactions are entirely goal-driven • Hence, specific experiences will be forgotten unless they relevant to a goal - within the goal hierarchy • Stable self-image emerges from the coherence imposed by the goal hierarchy, perhaps at the expense of accuracy