Cues

Cues are examples of manipulation and improvement of memory.

The ways in which we learn new information often revolve around how that information is encoded: the process we use, past knowledge, how we are feeling at the time, and our surroundings (this is called encoding specificity). When we try to retrieve that information, we can use cues to assist us. Mainly, there are two types of cues: context-dependent cues (context-dependent learning) and state-dependent cues (state-dependent learning).

Context-dependent cues

Also: context-dependent learning.

In context-dependent learning, it is understood that retrieval of stored information will be easier and more efficient when the context of the learning and retrieval are similar. In this sense, ‘context’ often refers to the location at which the information is stored. For example, if you learn about classical conditioning in one room, you are more likely to remember the information when in that same room, as opposed to a different classroom.

State-dependent cues

Also: state-dependent learning.

Comparatively, state-dependent learning focuses on the internal being of the individual (that is, one’s state) when information is stored. In this sense, ‘state’ can refer to both physiological and psychological being. It is understood that retrieval of stored information will be easier and more efficient when the learner feels similarly when they stored the information, and when they are trying to retrieve it. For example, some individuals may find it easier to recall certain pieces of information which they have encoded whilst under the influence of drugs, when they are under the influence of drugs again.