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Title: The Hebb effect : investigating long-term learning from short-term memory
Author: Cumming, N.
Awarding Body: University of Cambridge
Current Institution: University of Cambridge
Date of Award: 2001
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How do we learn a sequence of items so we can remember it not only over the short-term, as in hearing a phone-number and repeating it back, but over the long term? Ten experiments are presented that investigate this problem using the Hebb repetition effect (Hebb, 1961). In a canonical Hebb effect experiment, lists of familiar items are presented in an immediate serial recall task and one list is repeatedly presented at regular intervals. This leads to an improvement in recall for the repeating list over baseline performance. Existing models of serial order learning are tested; Chapter 2 provides evidence contrary to positional models of the Hebb effect while Chapter 5 provides evidence against chaining models. The experiments in these chapters (Experiments 1, 2 and 7) use a transfer design where a representation of the repeating list (Hebb list) is built up, then a list is presented whose structure is derived from the Hebb list in a way that tests the predictions of these models. The experiments of Chapters 4 and 5 examine the hypothesis that the most parsimonious model of the Hebb effect is one that is based on the formation of chunks (Miller, 1956), higher-level representations of several items. The results of these experiments are consistent with a chunking model based on the Primacy model (Page and Norris, 1998), but do not provide direct evidence of a chunking process. A growing body of evidence (e.g. Baddley et al., 1988; Papagno et al., 1991) suggests that the phonological store of the working memory model (Baddeley, 1986) plays an important role in the development of long term representations required for the acquisition of new vocabulary. For example, the ability to learn new words is impaired in patients with damage to the phonological store (e.g. PV, SC) and in normal subjects performing articulatory suppression. In chapter 6, the hypothesis that the Hebb effect is an experimental analogue of phonological form learning is investigated, the results of which suggest that the Hebb effect is involved in at least some of the same processes.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available