Psychology 3138G-001

Human Memory

If there is a discrepancy between the outline posted below and the outline posted on the OWL course website, the latter shall prevail.


A review of data and theories from cognitive psychology and cognitive neuroscience that bear on how people form, retain, and retrieve memory representations. Emphasis will be placed on studies that address cognitive processes, but some research on brain mechanisms will be covered as well.


Prerequisites: Psychology 2820E or both Psychology 2800E and 2810, and one of Psychology 2115A/B, 2134A/B, 2135A/B, 2220A/B, 2221A/B or Neuroscience 2000. Minimum grade of 60% required in all prerequisite courses.

3 lecture/discussion hours, 0.5 course


Unless you have either the prerequisites for this course or written special permission from your Dean to enroll in it, you may be removed from this course and it will be deleted from your record. This decision may not be appealed. You will receive no adjustment to your fees in the event that you are dropped from a course for failing to have the necessary prerequisites.


Instructor:                                                     Dr. Stefan Köhler

Office and Phone Number:                            WIRB 5138; 519-661-2111 ext. 86364

Office Hours:                                               by appointment


Course Coordinator:                                     n/a


Teaching Assistant:                                      Haopei Yang (HY)

Office:                                                         by appointment

Office Hours:                                               by appointment



Time and Location of Classes:                      Thurs 9:30am – 12:30pm; SSC-3026

If you or someone you know is experiencing distress, there are several resources here at Western to assist you.  Please visit: for more information on these resources and on mental health.

Please contact the course instructor if you require material in an alternate format or if you require any other arrangements to make this course more accessible to you. You may also wish to contact Services for Students with Disabilities (SSD) at 519-661-2111 ext 82147 for any specific question regarding an accommodation.


Schwartz, B.L. (2018). Memory. Foundations and Applications (3rd Edition). Los Angeles, CA: Sage.


Additional required readings will be posted on OWL (see Schedule). These readings are mandatory and will also be covered in the exams.


Reading Guidelines and Lecture Notes will be posted on OWL.



  1. To provide a comprehensive research-oriented overview of the history, methodology, theories, and contentious issues in the study of human memory in psychology and cognitive neuroscience.
  2. To encourage reading and writing about primary source material in memory research; to encourage critical thinking about memory research; to explore and appreciate the limits of current scientific knowledge in the fi
  3. To provide training for public (in-class) presentations on a specific research question and its empirical study; to encourage discussion of contentious issues in memory researc


Any course of this sort contains material that must be learned from both lectures and readings. Some material from the text will not be covered in lectures; similarly, some material from the lectures will not be covered in the readings. Therefore, it is imperative that students attend the lectures and do the readings regularly for successful completion of the course.


An important component of the present course relates to the in-class discussion of the content covered. Students will be asked to participate actively in this exchange of thoughts and ideas. The in class- presentations will serve to stimulate this discussion.


For the in-class presentations, students are expected to work in groups of two individuals. It is the responsibility of each group to obtain the reference for the primary research article to be presented prior to starting any work on it. Students are required to request this information from the instructor at least one week prior to the date of presentation.


To familiarize students with writing (academic and for the broader public) in this field of psychology, the course also requires the completion of a scholarly essay on primary research and several mini-reviews of presentations. Students are expected to choose their own topic (which must be directly relevant to the course) for this essay.


Learning Outcome

Learning Activities

How Assessed

Knowledge and Understanding

Describe and explain key

concepts and research findings that address how human memory works


Describe and explain key methods used to study human memory


Describe applications of memory research to everyday experiences and to memory







Participation in class discussion Preparing class presentations Writing mini-reviews

Writing quiz exam Writing final exam








Class presentations Mini-reviews

Quiz exam Final exam






Critical Thinking

Summarize and synthesize

research findings



Identify and describe limits of current knowledge in memory research


Preparing class presentations Participation in class discussion Writing quiz exam

Writing final exam Writing mini-reviews Writing final essay

Class presentations Quiz exam

Final exam

Mini-reviews Final essay


Communicate ideas, methods,

and findings from memory research in oral form


Communicate ideas, methods, and findings from memory research in written form

Participation in class discussion

Preparing class presentations



Writing mini-reviews Writing quiz exam Writing final exam Writing final essay


Class presentations



Mini-reviews Quiz exam Final exam Final essay



Course performance will be evaluated based on five different sources:



Quiz exam

15% of total grade


Final exam

25% of total grade


Original scholarly essay

25% of total grade


Oral in-class presentation

20% of total grade


3 Mini-reviews

15% of total grade


Feedback on the Quiz exam (15% of the final grade) will be provided on or before March 4, 2018.


PLEASE NOTE: Because this is an essay course, as per Senate Regulations (, you must pass the essay component to pass the course. That is, the average mark for your written assignments must be at least 50%.

Although the Psychology Department does not require instructors to adjust their course grades to conform to specific targets, the expectation is that course marks will be distributed around the following averages:

70%     1000-level and 2000-level courses
72%     2190-2990 level courses
75%     3000-level courses
80%     4000-level courses
The Psychology Department follows the University of Western Ontario grading guidelines, which are as follows (see ):

A+  90-100      One could scarcely expect better from a student at this level
A    80-89        Superior work that is clearly above average
B    70-79        Good work, meeting all requirements, and eminently satisfactory
C    60-69        Competent work, meeting requirements
D    50-59        Fair work, minimally acceptable
F    below 50    Fail


Quiz Exam: Thursday February 15, 2018; 9:30 am – 10:30 am. This quiz will address the materials from the lectures and readings covered up until that point. Mixed format: multiple choice and short answers. Feedback on the Quiz Exam (15% of the final grade) will be provided on or before March 4, 2018.


In-class Presentation: Dates (one per student) will be determined in first two weeks of classes.


Mini-Reviews (Two-tweet format): Due one week (Thursday 9:30 am) after the reviewed presentation. Dates (three per student) will be determined in first two weeks of classes. Late submissions will not be accepted. Each Mini-Review consist of two ‘tweets’ of max. 280 characters (excluding spaces) each:


A strengths tweet: try to offer a summary as if you were the authors’ media advisor, trying to attract as much scientific and popular interest to the study as possible


A weaknesses tweet: try to offer a summary as if you were a sceptical peer reviewer, trying to highlight your greatest concerns about the study.


Your tweets should demonstrate a thoughtful ‘digestion’ of the research presented in the study. You should try to avoid use of technical language. Generic criticisms such as “the sample size was too small/not representative” would be insufficient.


Essay: Complete essay due April 5, 2018, 9:30 am (last week of class) in hardcopy and electronic submission to TurnItIn via OWL. There will be a penalty for late submissions. Length: 8 double- spaced pages, 12-point font (i.e., roughly between 1800 and 2300 words).


Final Exam: During final exam period. This test will cover the materials from the entire course; it is a cumulative exam. Mixed format: multiple choice and short answers.





Assigned Readings

Jan 11

General course introduction



Jan 18

Historical overview


Textbook Ch. 1

Jan 25

Memory and the brain


Textbook Ch. 2

Feb 1

Working memory


Textbook Ch. 3

Feb 8



Textbook Ch. 4, 13

Feb 15

Quiz Exam; Semantic memory


Textbook Ch. 5

Feb 22

Reading week -- no class



March 1

Episodic memory


Textbook Ch. 4

March 8

Anterograde amnesia and related memory



Textbook Ch. 10

March 15

Autobiographical memory


Textbook Ch. 7

March 22

Memory and emotion


reading provided online

at OWL

March 29

Memory distortions and memory illusions


Textbook Ch. 8

April 5

To be selected by class


reading provided online

at OWL


Students are responsible for understanding the nature and avoiding the occurrence of plagiarism and other scholastic offenses. Plagiarism and cheating are considered very serious offenses because they undermine the integrity of research and education. Actions constituting a scholastic offense are described at the following link:

As of Sept. 1, 2009, the Department of Psychology will take the following steps to detect scholastic offenses. All multiple-choice tests and exams will be checked for similarities in the pattern of responses using reliable software, and records will be made of student seating locations in all tests and exams. All written assignments will be submitted to TurnItIn, a service designed to detect and deter plagiarism by comparing written material to over 5 billion pages of content located on the Internet or in TurnItIn’s databases. All papers submitted for such checking will be included as source documents in the reference database for the purpose of detecting plagiarism of papers subsequently submitted to the system. Use of the service is subject to the licensing agreement, currently between Western and

Possible penalties for a scholastic offense include failure of the assignment, failure of the course, suspension from the University, and expulsion from the University.


Western’s policy on Accommodation for Medical Illness can be found at: 

Students must see the Academic Counsellor and submit all required documentation in order to be approved for certain accommodation:


Office of the Registrar web site:

Student Development Services web site:

Please see the Psychology Undergraduate web site for information on the following:

- Policy on Cheating and Academic Misconduct
- Procedures for Appealing Academic Evaluations
- Policy on Attendance
- Policy Regarding Makeup Exams and Extensions of Deadlines
- Policy for Assignments
- Short Absences
- Extended Absences
- Documentation
- Academic Concerns
- 2017 Calendar References

No electronic devices, including cell phones and smart watches, will be allowed during exams.