When learning something new, people are aware (consciously or unconsciously) of the environment in which their learning takes place. This learning environment includes the physical setting, the time of day, and even the people who are present during learning. Studies have shown that when people later need to remember information they have learned, their ability to do so is affected by their current environment. If the environment is the same or similar to the original learning environment, recall—the ability to remember—will be easier and more successful. Psychologists refer to this as state-dependent memory.
<-NARRATOR:-> Now listen to a part of a lecture on this topic in a psychology class.
<-MALE PROFESSOR:-> When I was a student in middle school,
some of my classmates and I got an assignment to do a group presentation on tropical plants.
OK, and as part of this assignment we needed to memorize the names ... you know ...
and certain key characteristics of the plants.
Then, on the morning the assignment was given, our teacher gave us time to work on the presentation during class-right there in the classroom.
So there we were, during the school day, in our usual classroom, studying and memorizing the information.
Uh ... and our teacher and the other kids in the class were all there, too.
OK, so then later, on the night before the presentation,
I invited my group members over to my house to do some final studying.
And there we were ... it was after dark, my parents and my brother were in the next room watching TV ... and no one else was around.
It felt pretty different from working in the classroom, with all our schoolmates around,
like it was on that morning when we'd spent time learning the information.
Anyway, at my house, when we tried to remember the plant information,
we got a little worried-suddenly it was more difficult to remember all the names and different facts.
But the next morning, when we were back in the classroom,
the presentation actually went very smoothly-
it was easier for us to remember what we needed to talk about.
Using the example from the lecture, explain the concept of state-dependent memory.