The Blessings of Forgetting and the Fates of Forgotten Memories

Wednesday, Jan 16, 2019 - 3:00pm to 4:30pm
Drawing of man's head with small illustrations superimposed over different sections of the brain depicting various subjects

The Jacob Marschak Interdisciplinary Colloquium on Mathematics in the Behavioral Sciences at UCLA

Speaker: Ralph R. Miller, Distinguished Professor, Department of Psychology, State University of New York at Binghamton

Faculty host: Aaron P. Blaisdell, Professor, Department of Psychology, UCLA

In this talk, Ralph Miller will briefly review sources of non-pathological forgetting, including spontaneous decay with increasing retention intervals, displacement from short-term memory by irrelevant information, associative interference by similar but different information, and inadequate retrieval cues at test. He will discuss the potential for recovery of target information from each of these types of forgetting without further training and will consider the frequently overlooked but highly beneficial consequences of most forgetting.

Miller will examine forgetting caused by associative interference, including influences of the test situation, the retention interval as a function of whether the interfering information was acquired before or after the target information, and the nature of the target information and interfering information. He will also describe some basic procedures for reducing or increasing forgetting when desired.

Miller is a distinguished professor of psychology at the State University of New York at Binghamton. He received his BS at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and an MS in psychology and MS and PhD in physics from Rutgers University. His research focuses on elementary information processes such as learning, memory, and decision-making in animals and humans.

Light refreshments will be served. RSVP is requested.