Adaptive memory: Survival
processing enhances retention
Nairne, J., Thompson, S., & Pandeirada, J. (2007).
Adaptive memory: Survival processing enhances
retention. Journal of Experimental Psychology:
Learning, Memory, and Cognition, 33(2), 263-273.
doi:10.1037/0278-7393.33.2.263.
Summary by: Kyra Paliobagis, Herlinda Sandoval, and Leyla Zerehi
Video
• Surviving on a deserted island
• http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=plpXEfAvZ0
Nairne, J. S., Thompson, S. R., & Pandeirada, J. N. (2007). Adaptive Memory:
Survival Processing Enhances Retention. Journal of Experimental Psychology:
Learning, Memory, and Cognition, 33(2), 263-273.
Introduction
• The researchers investigated the idea that
memory systems might have evolved to help
us remember fitness-relevant information—
specifically, information relevant to survival.
• Hypothesis: Participants will recall words that
are survival related more than words that are
non survival related.
Nairne, J. S., Thompson, S. R., & Pandeirada, J. N. (2007). Adaptive Memory: Survival
Processing Enhances Retention. Journal of Experimental Psychology: Learning, Memory, and
Cognition, 33(2), 263-273.
Method
Participants
- 150 college students
Materials
- Four lists of 8 words that were related to one another.
Procedure
- Participants were placed into one of three rating scenarios and were
given 36 unrelated words that they would rate for importance depending
on the relevance to the scenario. The scenarios were survival, moving, and
pleasantness. They were asked to recall in order what they had rated each
word. Lastly, participants were surprised with a free recall test of the
words they had rated. They had 10 minutes to recall the words in any
order.
Nairne, J. S., Thompson, S. R., & Pandeirada, J. N. (2007). Adaptive Memory:
Survival Processing Enhances Retention. Journal of Experimental Psychology:
Learning, Memory, and Cognition, 33(2), 263-273.
Results
• Participants were more likely to recall words that were
associated with survival.
Nairne, J. S., Thompson, S. R., & Pandeirada, J. N. (2007). Adaptive Memory: Survival Processing Enhances
Retention. Journal of Experimental Psychology: Learning, Memory, and Cognition, 33(2), 263-273.
Results
• Processing items in terms of their ultimate
survival value enhances later retention.
• Processing for survival yields a retention
advantage compared with moving and
pleasantness conditions.
– High vs. low survival relevance
Nairne, J. S., Thompson, S. R., &
Pandeirada, J. N. (2007). Adaptive Memory:
Survival Processing Enhances Retention.
Journal of Experimental Psychology:
Learning, Memory, and Cognition, 33(2),
263-273.
Discussion
• Findings suggest that memory systems are
“tuned” to remember information that is
processed for fitness, perhaps as a result of
survival advantages in our ancestral past.
• From a fitness perspective, not all stimuli are
created equal
Nairne, J. S., Thompson, S. R., & Pandeirada, J. N. (2007). Adaptive Memory:
Survival Processing Enhances Retention. Journal of Experimental Psychology:
Learning, Memory, and Cognition, 33(2), 263-273.
Critical Review
Interesting Points
Objections
1.Effort is typically a
poor determinant
of retention
2. Cite “yes vs. no
retention”
3. Discuss
evolution/adaptat
ions as difficult to
identify
1. Memory functioning is
content dependent.
2. Our memory systems may
be biased to help us
remember information in a
survival context.
3. Many survival situations
induce emotional arousal,
thereby increasing the
chances that fitness-relevant
information will be
remembered.
Nairne, J. S., Thompson, S. R., & Pandeirada, J. N. (2007). Adaptive Memory:
Survival Processing Enhances Retention. Journal of Experimental Psychology:
Learning, Memory, and Cognition, 33(2), 263-273.
Test Questions
M/C
1. The __ , __ groups were found to have no significant
difference in recall performance.
a) survival; moving b) moving; pleasantness c) pleasant; survival d) none of the above
2. ____ processing has better retention in recall/recognition
tasks
a) Semantic b) Episodic
3. An example of fitness content is
a)
Mate selection b) Cheater detection c) Identify predators d) all of the above
True/False
4. Retention is sensitive to the content of information
5. Memory systems in humans are evolved to remember
information that’s processed for pleasantness.
6. Mnemonics are learning techniques that aid memory
Nairne, J. S., Thompson, S. R., & Pandeirada, J. N. (2007). Adaptive Memory: Survival
Processing Enhances Retention. Journal of Experimental Psychology: Learning, Memory, and
Cognition, 33(2), 263-273.
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Adaptive memory: Survival processing enhances