Memory and the Human Lifespan

Memory and the Human Lifespan
Course Trailer
Memory Is a Party
1: Memory Is a Party

Using the metaphor of a party whose "guests" include the different components of the complex interactions that make up memory, Professor Joordens introduces you to several kinds of memory-including episodic, semantic, and procedural-to arrive at an initial understanding of the variety of processes at work in human "memory."...

31 min
The Ancient "Art of Memory"
2: The Ancient "Art of Memory"

Techniques to embed and retrieve memories more easily-so-called mnemonic strategies-date back at least to classical Greece. See how one such technique-the Method of Loci-can help improve the episodic memory you depend on to recall a group of items such as grocery or to-do lists....

31 min
Rote Memorization and a Science of Forgetting
3: Rote Memorization and a Science of Forgetting

Is a mnemonic strategy always the most useful? Examine rote memorization and how it differs from mnemonics. Also, get an introduction to the work of Hermann Ebbinghaus, whose 19th-century experiments in remembering and forgetting marked the first scientific examination of memory....

32 min
Sensory Memory-Brief Traces of the Past
4: Sensory Memory-Brief Traces of the Past

Begin a deeper discussion of the different kinds of memory, beginning with sensory memory and how its brief retentive power lets you switch from one stimulus to another-and even gives you your sense of "the present moment." Here, the focus is on iconic (or visual) memory and its auditory counterpart, echoic memory....

28 min
The Conveyor Belt of Working Memory
5: The Conveyor Belt of Working Memory

Plunge into the mental processes that allow you to work with information, often with the goal of solving a problem. You learn that these processes can also be used to keep information briefly "in mind," though they require effort and are prone to interference....

31 min
Encoding-Our Gateway into Long-Term Memory
6: Encoding-Our Gateway into Long-Term Memory

How does information make its way from your temporary working memory into long-term memory so you can access it again when you need it? This introduction to encoding explains the process and offers useful tips for improving your own recall....

30 min
Episodic and Semantic Long-Term Memory
7: Episodic and Semantic Long-Term Memory

Strengthen your grasp of how these two key memory systems function. You explore the relationship between them with analogies that range from the job requirements of London taxi drivers to the famed "holo-deck" of the Star Trek television series....

31 min
The Secret Passage-Implicit Memory
8: The Secret Passage-Implicit Memory

Encounter still another category of memory-a way in which your experiences can enter long-term memory without the kind of "effortful encoding" discussed earlier. You learn why this sort of memory creation is vitally important, yet also unreliable as a substitute for conscious effort....

31 min
From Procedural Memory to Habit
9: From Procedural Memory to Habit

In this lecture, you see that your memory for procedures is useful not only in the "muscle memory" of physical skills, but also in cognitive processes. Also, learn about constructivist learning, in which the explicit structure of a procedure-which is usually taught verbally-instead is learned implicitly during exploratory practice....

28 min
When Memory Systems Battle-Habits vs. Goals
10: When Memory Systems Battle-Habits vs. Goals

What happens when implicit or procedural memories become so powerful they seize control? In this examination of the tenacity of habits, learn how and why habits are formed and what steps might be useful in changing them, or at least regaining control....

28 min
Sleep and the Consolidation of Memories
11: Sleep and the Consolidation of Memories

Does sleep play a role in strengthening memories of your experiences during the day? Gain a sense of the latest research about a subject that is difficult to study as you explore the relationship between sleep and memory, including the possible link between specific sleep stages and specific kinds of memory....

30 min
Infant and Early Childhood Memory
12: Infant and Early Childhood Memory

How does the maturation of memory fit into a child's overall brain development? Gain invaluable and surprising insights into the month-by-month and year-by-year development of a child's capacity for memory, beginning in the womb and continuing on with its dramatic development after entry into the world....

29 min
Animal Cognition and Memory
13: Animal Cognition and Memory

Does an elephant really never forget? Expand your study of memory to investigate the extent to which the mysterious abilities of humans may also exist in animals and, if so, how they might differ from our own....

32 min
Mapping Memory in the Brain
14: Mapping Memory in the Brain

Almost two decades since its revolutionary appearance, fMRI-functional magnetic resonance imaging-is allowing researchers to watch the living human brain at work, with no harm or discomfort to the subject. Explore what happens in several areas of the brain as memories are created or retrieved....

30 min
Neural Network Models
15: Neural Network Models

Can computer models mimic the operations of the human brain? Examine the use of neural network modeling, in which biologically inspired models posited by researchers in cognitive neuroscience are advancing our understanding of just how those operations take place....

30 min
Learning from Brain Damage and Amnesias
16: Learning from Brain Damage and Amnesias

Leave the world of computers for that of neuropsychology as you focus on the life situations of several patients who have suffered some form of brain injury. You learn how damage to different areas of the brain can have dramatically different impacts on memory and how these patients experience the world....

32 min
The Many Challenges of Alzheimer's Disease
17: The Many Challenges of Alzheimer's Disease

In a lecture that explores one of our most frightening diseases from both the caregiver's and sufferer's perspectives, learn how Alzheimer's progresses, how that progression may be forestalled, and ways in which technology may be able to help through the emerging field of "cognitive prosthetics."...

31 min
That Powerful Glow of Warm Familiarity
18: That Powerful Glow of Warm Familiarity

Why does something familiar to us actually feel that way? Discover the sources of familiarity as you are introduced to the concepts of perceptual fluency and prototypes, and explore some surprising ways that those feelings of familiarity can trump other considerations....

29 min
Deja Vu and the Illusion of Memory
19: Deja Vu and the Illusion of Memory

Is déjà vu simply an illusion of memory? If so, can we learn more about memory by trying to understand how this common phenomenon comes about? Examine some of the theories that have been put forth to explain this uncanny experience....

30 min
Recovered Memories or False Memories?
20: Recovered Memories or False Memories?

Is episodic memory subject to the same pitfalls as misattributed feelings of familiarity? Can we "remember" things that never took place with the same intensity and certainty as those that did? Gain new insights into what is at stake when long-forgotten "memories" resurface....

31 min
Mind the Gaps! Memory as Reconstruction
21: Mind the Gaps! Memory as Reconstruction

Metaphors for memory usually reference information storehouses of some kind, such as library stacks or computer hard drives, from which episodic memories are "retrieved." Learn about the extent to which we actually construct our memories anew each time we summon them and how this explains common memory errors....

30 min
How We Choose What's Important to Remember
22: How We Choose What's Important to Remember

Does our brain always make decisions for us about which aspects of our experience to encode for later recall, or can we influence that process ourselves? Learn potentially powerful techniques for influencing the shape of future memories....

30 min
Aging, Memory, and Cognitive Transition
23: Aging, Memory, and Cognitive Transition

Apply a reality check to the popularly held belief that memory naturally declines as we age. Learn what happened when a researcher corrected for the age-related variables long-ignored by traditional testers-and what conclusions we can draw about what lies ahead for us as we grow older....

29 min
The Monster at the End of the Book
24: The Monster at the End of the Book

Contemplate the significance of what you've learned, with special attention to the common question of whether you can improve your episodic memory-remembering what you want to recall, forgetting what you'd rather not, and making choices about how to achieve a balance....

32 min
Steve Joordens

Human memory is absolutely amazing. It keeps us connected with our past while preparing us for our future.


University of Toronto, Scarborough


University of Waterloo

About Steve Joordens

Dr. Steve Joordens is Professor of Psychology at the University of Toronto Scarborough, where he has taught since 1995. He earned a doctorate in cognitive psychology from the University of Waterloo. Honored repeatedly as both teacher and researcher, Professor Joordens is on the cutting edge of the emerging field of cognitive prosthetics to assist both learning-disabled patients as well as patients with Alzheimer's disease. He is a frequent speaker at professional conferences, where he consistently earns best in session honors. In addition to publishing many articles on human memory, consciousness, and attention in empirical and theoretical psychology journals, Professor Joordens earned both the Premier's Research Excellence Award and the National Technology Innovation Award-the latter for the creation of an Internet-based educational platform that supports the development of critical thinking and clear communication skills in any size classroom. His teaching skills have also earned him repeated honors, including the President's Teaching Award, his university's highest teaching honor; the Scarborough College Students' Union Best Professor Award; a provincially sponsored Leadership in Faculty Teaching Award; and four nominations for Television Ontario's Best Lecturer Competition, which include two Top 10 finishes.

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