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Some subjects in the broad field of memory and learning are interesting, and this paper tries to explore the various parts of psychology relating the topic under discussion. In essence, this section addresses the process of fading and its impact on perceptual category learning. Fading has uses in the realm of teaching discriminating tasks as a tool in literature pertaining to behavioral-analysis and theories on learning processes. The debate centers on the use of fading versus a more targeted training plan that employs multiple categorization tasks at the same time. The two types of fading, transfer-along-a-continuum fading, and cross-dimensional fading involve introducing a prominent cue at the beginning of training and gradually removed with the aim of making the stimulus aspect gain control over the response. The study of cross-dimensional fading has had usefulness in training animals as well as serving as a method in the training of children considered as having delayed development delayed (Pashler, 2013). In the second type of fading, the learner in question is introduced to stimulus that are exaggerated and is expected to master it. It is a type of fading that was very effective in the flicker-rate discrimination procedure applied to pigeons. With regards to human beings, fading is a procedure that has enhanced learning as seen from experiments done by Jamieson and his colleagues. Their objective was to try help francophone people make a distinction between the voicing of “th” and “the.”
Besides, it is a procedure that has tangible effects on children with delayed development and boosted learning in persons exposed to a presentation for considerable periods of time. In essence, the study investigated that fading was very useful when the feature stimuli were not verbal in reality, for example, color saturation. Also, attentional selection of a subject with regards to a relevant dimension showed signs of being augmented through fading.
Working Memory Training and its Dependence on Ability of an Individual.
Many studies conducted with regards to the issue of working memory training also demonstrate its subsequent impact on a wide range of cognitive abilities such as fluid intelligence. The premise here is that much inference is evident regarding the fundamental relationship between Working Memory Capacity and fluid intelligence. The suggestion here is that if the training of the working memory could achieve some progress efficiently, it should eventually result in an improvement in the Working Memory Capacity which in turn enhances fluid intelligence. Overall, an improved level of fluid knowledge is critical in improving the many cognitive tasks that exist in the real world that have a relation to Working Memory Capacity.
The importance of working memory training underscored from studies, focuses on its application in helping children who have ADHD increase their levels of Working Memory Capacity which would serve to reduce the symptom effects of the neural condition. Also, working memory training can benefit children with learning disabilities, persons who have suffered a stroke and older adults with low levels of Working Memory Capacity (Foster et al., 2017).
The interest behind working memory training is its effect on Working Memory Capacity which eventually impacts cognitive abilities such as multitasking, following directions and the level of fluid intelligence. As such, studies on Working Memory Capacity aim at obtaining a relationship between tasks are related or not to this phenomenon. Furthermore, working memory training is critical in assessing its effect on the performance of other duties, whether it be related structurally to the training task (near transfer) or one that has a similar framework and measures a different cognitive ability from the one in training (far transfer).
The central theme in this discussion is whether persons of different abilities exhibit improvements after undergoing a working memory training. A study was done to evaluate this phenomenon using a total of 116 subjects in 23 sessions. These participants were also part of a previous study that involved measuring their Working Memory Capacity using sophisticated span tasks. The sessions included a beginner’s assessment session, ten training sittings followed by another ten training sessions and finally a closing testing session. Training sessions involved completing two related task with a verbal and a spatial component. Assessment sessions involved eight cognitive abilities measurement amongst them Working Memory Capacity and Primary Memory, each running for two to three hours.
From the study training conducted, it is evident that there exists an improvement in abilities after subjects went through the 20 training tasks. The gap between the low span and high span that occurred before the training increased indicating that persons with high spans benefit more from working memory training. The overall trend from this study is that a person’s level of ability before the practice will affect their ability to improve working memory training.
In the same line concerning the area of Working Memory Capacity arises the issue of its capacity limit. The multicomponent model suggests that the Working Memory is composed of subsystems that are modality-specific which are responsible for keeping tasks with the relevant information in an active state. One central aspect of this type of model has to do with the intermodal savings that realize when two tasks run concurrently. As such, the evidence from studies postulates that in the case where two functions are running simultaneously, there is a significant level of intermodal savings or the Dual-Task (DT) cost is insignificant or reduced considerably if the information has its source from different modalities (Fougnie & Marois, 2011).
On the other hand, if the two tasks are retrieving information from the same modality, the Dual-Task cost is much higher. Another model that is in contrast to the multicomponent model is the embedded process model which observes that there exists a central capacity limiting system for the Working Memory. It further goes on to suggest that there are no intermodal savings due to the evident competition between visual and audio arrays for the limited storage that exists within the Working Memory. As such, to observe any form of intermodal savings in the Working Memory, it has to be assisted by the Sensory Memory. The reason for this is that the Sensory Memory, which is independent of the Working Memory, has a large storage capacity of several seconds which typically assists in tasks that would have been performed by the Working Memory.
Recently, research done by scientists observe that intermodal savings under the embedded process model reduce if the Sensory Memory is interrupted by pattern tasks. Experimental research conducted to compute the level of Working Memory Capacity limit involved calculating the intermodal savings for a Dual-Task situation. The experiment measured the stored discrete items in the Working Memory of both the audio and visual arrays. Combined Working Memory Capacity for the coupled components, that is audio and visual, gave a total of 3.49 items for the Double-Task condition. In the single task condition, the Single Task for the optical component was 3.62 items while the audio part was 1.40 items. The figures suggested that the Working Memory limit was shared by both the audio and visual element since the value for the Dual Task capacity was virtually the same as that of the Single Task System, primarily the vision capacity.
In the same vein, Working Memory Capacity a set limit by the maximum number of object representations stored in the Working Memory. The inference here drawn from the data, therefore, emphasizes that a person’s Working Memory Capacity level has a capping determined by the value of the higher task of the Single Task.
Spatial working memory is another exciting aspect with regards the process of learning and memory. Research has been done to determine whether our bodily movements have a role in the cognitive processes and as such, our actions augment the method of producing thoughts. Cognitive functions such as mathematical reasoning, comprehension of a language and retrieval of memory items that are episodic and influenced by directed action (Thomas, 2013).
With the growing stack of evidence suggesting that the way we move has an influence on our process of thinking and has further support from the notion that this is the representation of knowledge derived from the procedure of mental simulations. An excellent example of this process is in when a person faces with a problem needing a solution; they would typically move in a direction that simulates the solution to the problem by producing perceptual simulations that mirror the answer of the question.
Aerobic Fitness on Learning and Memory
Currently, there is an increased number of children who are unfit with repercussions on not only their bodily health but also their mental health. On tasks that require retrieval of memory, perception and cognitive control, children considered as unfit demonstrated lower functionalities when it came to these cognitive abilities. Memory is a broad term that consists of regular and semantic systems supported by unique neural networks like the hippocampus that is very important in learning and episodic memory retrieval.
In the case of human beings and rodents, the performance of memory has been shown to have an impact is exercise. In the case of mice, their spatial learning and levels of memory retrieval have demonstrated enhanced indications and an increase in their neurogenesis, a factor that may lead to an improvement in learning outcomes. Moreover, mice set on the running wheel displayed increased levels in the size of their hippocampus and the insulin growth factor, learning and memory, development of the synapsis, and brain-derived neurotrophic factors (BNDF).
The same can be said about children as well. Encoding and recall procedures were better utilized by children considered fit than those who were not fit. As such, this statement implies that for a healthy child, their cognitive control abilities are stronger and thus can use their memories more efficiently (Raine, 2013). A study done by Raine and her colleagues involved asking children to learn about new names of regions in a map that was fictitious. The procedure included two methods, a study only of the geographical map and an interleaved and later testing of their recall ability of the regions and locations on the map. Their level of memory capacity was established using a free and cued recall process.
From the results of their study, it the evidence points to the importance of interspersing studying and testing and increase levels of aerobic fitness and their corresponding enhancement of learning and memory. In essence, children who were fit performed better than the less fit ones in the area of recalling the regions that they were introduced to when employing the study only condition. Under the test-study state, children who were both highly fit and less fit showed similar performance in the recall section. As such, the data from the process indicates that the impact of fitness on the learning and memory of children is most impactful in situations that are considered challenging, in this case, the study only condition.
Normal Ageing Effects on Working Memory
As a person ages, their cognitive abilities and performance are significantly affected including their working memory. Studies done have concluded that visual-spatial working memory is more prominent amongst people who regarded as aged than the verbal working memory. Alternatively, real-world tasks seem to suggest that the spatial, visual and verbal working memory amongst the aged may be similar.
A study conducted by Giuliana and her colleagues involved a setting where they used both young people, aged 20 to 30 years and old subjects, aged 64 to 73 years. The procedure had healthy adults tested in the real world like laboratory conditions where they were given tasks with the aim of assessing the impact of memory load on changes observed in the working memory with regards to age. They used color and spatial information as testing tools. The measures used to estimate memory performance included; the number of correct answers before getting it wrong which measures the memory capacity; and the number of trials without any error which measured how perfect the memory was. At the end of the study, the evidence demonstrated that the working memory performance declined with age. Furthermore, memory loads affected the working memory capacity adversely, and in conclusion, no evidence pointed to the fact that age decline affected the spatial working memory (Klencklen, 2017).
Foster, J. L., Harrison, T. L., Hicks, K. L., Draheim, C., Redick, T. S., & Engle, R. W. (2017). Do the effects of working memory training depend on baseline ability level?. Journal of Experimental Psychology: Learning, Memory, and Cognition, 43(11), 1677.
Fougnie, D., & Marois, R. (2011). What limits working memory capacity? Evidence for modality-specific sources to the simultaneous storage of visual and auditory arrays. Journal of Experimental Psychology: Learning, Memory, and Cognition, 37(6), 1329.
Klencklen, G., Lavenex, P. B., Brandner, C., & Lavenex, P. (2017). Working memory decline in normal aging: Memory load and representational demands affect performance. Learning and Motivation.
Pashler, H., & Mozer, M. C. (2013). When does fading enhance perceptual category learning?. Journal of Experimental Psychology: Learning, Memory, and Cognition, 39(4), 1162.
Raine, L. B., Lee, H. K., Saliba, B. J., Chaddock-Heyman, L., Hillman, C. H., & Kramer, A. F. (2013). The influence of childhood aerobic fitness on learning and memory. PloS one, 8(9), e72666.
Thomas, L. E. (2013). Spatial working memory is necessary for actions to guide thought. Journal of Experimental Psychology: Learning, Memory, and Cognition, 39(6), 1974.
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