CODING THEORIES. In general, a code is a system of symbols or signals representing information. Examples of codes are semaphore signals, magnetic fields on a recording tape, spoken English, written German, and the electrical zeroes and ones in a computer's memory chip. As long as one knows the rules of a code, a message can be converted from one medium to another without losing any information. Although the precise rules that sensory systems use to transmit information to the brain are not known, it is recognizes that they take two forms: anatomical coding (activity of particular neurons) and temporal coding (time or rate of neuron firing). The term coding is used in many content areas of psychology when examining and describing various aspects of stimuli and responses. In sensation, the sensory organs collect environmental physical energies as input and prepare the stimuli for the next process, called transduction of the stimulus energy into neural impulse form, after which coding occurs at higher neural centers. In this way, stimulus information is translated or coded into the different aspects of sensation that are experienced. Some of the coded information concerns the factors of stimulus intensity (e.g., a loud versus a quiet sound) and stimulus quality (e.g., a high pitch versus a low pitch sound). Coding occurs in the processing of certain kinds of visual information, but individuals, also, have a verbal "channel" for processing information contained in words and ideas. A. Paivio refers to the process of coding information by both visual and verbal means as a dual-coding system/theory. Coding is used, also, in the area of cognitive psychology to describe the mechanisms of memory where concepts such as "encoding," "recoding," "decoding," "chunks," "subjective units," "functional stimuli," and "coding responses" are described, and where coding processes and responses need not be conscious or reportable. In one case, the encoding specificity hypothesis/principle (also called the procedural reinstatement hypothesis) refers to the generalization that the initial encoding (i.e., the process of choosing the information to be retained and transforming that information into a form than can be saved) of learned material reflects the influence of the context in which the learning took place. The notion of encoding specificity (also known as encoding-retrieval interaction and transfer-appropriate processing) is traceable to the American psychologist Harry Levi Hollingworth (1880-1956) in 1928 where it was called the principle of reinstatement of stimulating conditions (cf., encoding variability principle - refers to the degree of variability in the environment and mood in which one learns material; the larger the encoding variability, the more likely one has of performing well in an examination of that material; the effect is due to the increased likelihood that the examining situation resembles one of those in which the material originally was acquired, and is similar to the state-dependent learning/memory effects). In terms of terminological analysis and experimental methodology, the phenomenon of coding is a construct that is defined by converging operations (e.g., Garner, Hake, & Eriksen, 1956) where it is viewed as a system for representing thoughts of any type, including schemata, propositions, concepts, percepts, ideas, images, segments, features, and "knowing" responses. Thus, there are many attributes to stimuli, and not all of them are involved in every memory, action, or thought, but cortical regions provide the neural coding processes necessary to register one's experiences. See also INFORMATION/INFORMATION-PROCESSING THEORY; MEMORY, THEORIES OF; NEURON, NEURAL, AND NERVE THEORY; REDINTEGRATION, PRINCIPLE/LAWS OF; STATE DEPENDENT MEMORY AND LEARNING EFFECTS. REFERENCES

Hollingworth, H. L. (1928). Psychology: Its facts and principles. New York: D. Appleton. Garner, W., Hake, H., & Eriksen, C. (1956). Operationism and the concept of perception. Psychological Review, 63, 149-159. Melton, A., & Martin, E. (Eds.) (1972).

Coding processes in human memory. Washington, D.C.: Winston.

Tulving, E., & Thomson, D. (1973). Encoding specificity and retrieval processes in episodic memory. Psychological Review, 80, 352-373. Uttal, W. (1973). The psychobiology of sensory coding. New York: Harper.

DeValois, R., & DeValois, K. (1975). Neural coding of color. In E. Carter-ette & M. Friedman (Eds.), Handbook of perception. Vol. 5. New York: Academic Press. Wiseman, S., & Tulving, E. (1975). A test of the confusion theory of encoding specificity. Journal of Verbal

Learning and Verbal Behavior, 14, 370-381. Paivio, A. (1991). Dual coding theory: Retrospect and current status. Canadian Journal of Psychology, 45, 255-287.


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Pruning The Elements Of Death

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