Sensory Memory: Getting Information Into the Brain

Memory is a process that allows us to learn by experience
Unique - our ability to acquire new information yields new concepts, ideas, feelings and behavior

Hebb's Law - neurons that fire together, survive together, wire together (physiological basis for memory)

Information Processing Model of Memory - functional properties
Sensory Memory - thalamus - relays sensory data to correct part of cortex to process sight, sound, taste, and touch
  • Unconscious brain - filters info. for us: a. is the stimulus novel? b. how intense is the stimulus? c. is there movement of the stimuli?
  • 2 factors strongly influence whether the brain initially attends to arriving info. and if the attention will be sustained. a. emotion b. meaning
  • Pattern recognition - process by which the brain tries to match incoming sensory stimuli with info already stored in our neural networks
  • If there is no match, the brain may attend to the meaningless info. for a short time b/c it's novel BUT if it can't make sense of it it won't be processed further
  • Sustained attention on something you can't figure out is boring and IMPOSSIBLE. Why do we expect kids to do that?
  • It's our responsibility to connect new "meaningless info." to previously activated networks in which the new info. fits so students can attend to it
  • Emotion drives attention and attention drives learning

Thalamus - receives stimuli and sends to cortex
Amygdala - receives info. from thalamus but it's a shorter distance than to cortex; it determines the emotional relevance of the stimuli
  • explains the less than rational response the brain makes in emotional situations
  • helps explain the less-than-rational reactions we see in our students when they are confronted with situations their brains perceive to be emotionally attention-getting