I try to analyse my memory and cognition while learning coding and generally interacting with a computer to develop more meta cognition. I found many times that I remember the words and some associations regarding some procedure, but I do not really remember how to execute it. I will give an example from statistics. I was doing an Anova and the rule states that if the Mauchly's test is significant you should use Greenhouse Geiser adjustment, however if epsilon is greater than 0.75 you use a different adjustment. I have executed this rule a bunch of times, however when I run into it again the only thing I remember is Greenhouse Geisser and 0.75, I always have to check the relationship between them and what to do next.

My semantic memory keeps the information about the association of the two words. What is the term used for the memory of procedures to execute? I know about procedural memory, though that is defined as implicit so it does not encompassing this concrete example.

This happens in many other situations as well with more difficult procedures or concepts, I remember the words and the associations to it, but for the actual procedure or concept I always have to look up again.


1 Answer 1


You are right, procedural memory is defined as implicit. Semantic memory on the other hand is part of explicit memory. It includes declarative knowlegde (knowledge of facts or ideas) that can be made conscious. As far as I know there is no particular relationship between the two but they will definitely interact during cognitive processes. For example, experts often possess declarative knowledge thas has been proceduralized, which means that the declarative knowlege is incorporated in automatic procedures without making strong demands on working memory.

It is believed that concepts ("a concept is a mental representation used to group similar events, ideas, objects, or people into a category", see Woolfolk, Educational Psychology) are part of semantic memory and thus explicit memory. The term for "memory of procedures to execute" comes closes to two things that are part actually procedural memory:

  • Scripts: actions sequences or plans of action stored in memory. For example, we have scripts for ordering food at a certain type of restaurant.
  • Productions (or condition-action rules): if A happens than B happens. If good behavior occurs than reinforce that behavior if you want it to occur again. Or if you want to ski faster than you automatically lean back.

In order for the procedure to become more easy to execute or even automatic for you as an individual, you need to proceduralize your declarative knowledge. So explicit knowledge has to become implicit. These skills are often referred to automated basic skills. For this to happen you will need to practice the skill a lot in a realistic context. However, not all skills can be come expert. Some skills such as driving can be automatic but you will still need to monitor the traffic consciously while driving, in other words you cannot do this automatically. Such a conscious procedure is called domain-specific strategy. After reading your example, I think the skill your are referring to can become automatic, however you need to practice each individual procedure (how and when to do a certain statistical test) for it to become automated.

I know this might not entirely answer your question but I think the information is usefull nevertheless.

Reference used: Educational Psychology by A. Woolfolk, Chapter 8.


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