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Schemas

Dagmar C. Unz


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Our mental architecture is shaped in a way that helps us to deal with our complex environment. Since much of our everyday behavior and many of our experiences are repetitive and routine, our knowledge of regular aspects of the world can be organized in a highly structured way. One important theory about the organization of information in long-term memory is “schema theory” (→  Information Processing ). Schemas (also sometimes called “schemata”) are long-term memory structures (→  Memory ). They are networks of concepts that organize past experiences. By representing general knowledge about concepts, objects, events, etc. in a certain area of reality, schemas give a framework to interpret current experiences. The following summarizes the characteristics of schemas. (1) A schema can be thought of as an abstract pattern onto which information can be mapped. Schemas consist of different components, including specification about the relationships among the components and slots for all components that can assume different values, as well as default values. (2) One schema can be embedded in another schema and can itself contain sub-schemas. Relationships among these may be considered to be like webs; thus, each one is interconnected with a number of others. (3) Schemas represent episodic as well as generic knowledge. (4) Schemas represent knowledge in very different domains. (5) Schemas ... log in or subscribe to read full text

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