10 examples of coding (psychology) (2023) (2023)

10 examples of coding (psychology) (2023) (1)

Coding refers to the processing and meaning of raw information input into the mind.

It occurs in all sensory modalities and is a necessary step for the brain to process information into working memory or decide on long-term storage.

Coding happens a lot in our lives, but some obvious examples of coding are when we're trying to learn vocabulary in a new language and we squint at something on the horizon. In any case, we are aware that our brain looks for meaning in the sensations that surround us.

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Coding in the definition of psychology.

Some academic definitions of coding from psychological textbooks include:

“Encoding denotes the intrapersonal process of converting a perceived external stimulus into an internal representation” (Fiedler, 2011)

"When psychologists talk about encoding, they mean how information is stored in memory." (Eysenck, 2005)

Both definitions emphasize that encoding is about taking external information and classifying it in our minds to ensure that it is understood and remembered, and that the memory can be retrieved later.

encoding types

There are several types of encoding:

  • Acoustic:Insert sounds or spoken words into memory. This is processed through the ears. Acoustic inputs can be processedwork memoryor long-term storage.
  • Visual:Processing of visual stimuli into iconic memory, which fades quickly; Most visual stimuli are not linked to long-term memory.
  • Tactile:Process information about how something feels, including texture, temperature, vibration, and pain. The sense of taste is also tactile.
  • Olfactory:Odors and odors are processed through the sense of smell in the nasal cavity and can be stored for a long time.
  • Semantics:It involves processing the meaning of concepts and declarative information in working memory; it can be stored for a long time.

Examples of Coding in Psychology

  • The commercial has catchy lyrics and an upbeat beat that really sticks in the mind.─ Acoustic encoding
  • The smell of the spilled chemicals immediately caused people to panic and look for ways to escape the city.─ olfactory encoding
  • Experiencing exotic food in foreign countries can create lasting memories─ Tactile flavor coding
  • Listen to a professor's lecture and think about how the material relates to yesterday's class discussion.─ Semantic encoding
  • The brand's logo is bright and colorful, incorporating many shades of green to match its environmental image.─ Visual coding
  • Once the customer touched the pajamas and realized how soft they were, they had to buy a new pair.─ haptic encoding
  • Walking past the bakery, the smell of freshly baked bread and freshly brewed coffee is almost overpowering.─ olfactory encoding
  • Reading another academic paper for a psychology course.─ Semantic encoding
  • Listening to classical music can help a person relax at the end of a stressful day.─ Acoustic encoding
  • Visit an art gallery and see works by the great Impressionists Monet and Renoir.─ Visual coding

Mind coding weaknesses

The encoding process is inevitably the creation ofinterpretationsof information. In the future, we will have to rely on our memories of events, which are encoded in our minds and can be flawed.

Our memories tend to be faulty. We forget, misremember, confuse events and processes, and interpret our experiences subjectively.

As Fincher and Robins argue:

“Encoding generally omits much of the richness of a stimulus/experience and appears to primarily represent semantic content (meaning)” (Fincher & Robins, 2019)

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Thus, mental coding inevitably leads to aLossprecision, but it still helps us remember anything!

Nowadays, to overcome this weakness, we often try to record events through video recordings, written recordings, etc. so we can review events in the future.

Case studies and research base

1. Encoding of voice information and musicians

The encoding of music and language is generally attributed to the cerebral cortex. Speakers of tonal languages ​​such as Mandarin have superior linguistic tone pattern encoding compared to English-only speakers. Long-term exposure to linguistic tonal patterns found in tonal languages ​​helps explain this ability.

Wong and others. (2007) investigated whether music-related experience can enhance sensory coding in the auditory brainstem. They measured auditory brain stem function in musicians and non-musicians.

These measurements were taken while participants watched a video and listened to three randomly presented Mandarin Chinese stimuli.

In general, the auditory brainstem regions of the musicians showed "a more faithful representation of the stimulus" (p. 421). This means that this region is encoded with a stronger match to the stimulus properties.

Also "musicians showed significantly better recognition and differentiation" of pitches (p. 421). Simply put, “Musicians have a greater capacity to learn lexical tones…. These results add to our existing knowledge about the role of the brainstem in language encoding” (p. 423).

2. Effects of essential oils on cognitive performance

Olfactory encoding can have profound effects on human behavior. From the ancient Greeks to modern societies, many have embraced the benefits ofessential oils.

Unfortunately, as Moss et al. (2008) state: “To date, there are only limited scientific studiesvalidity researchsaid supposed effects” (p. 60).

Exceptions include Martin (1996), who found that the smell of vanilla reduced anxiety in patients undergoing a CT scan. While Ita et al. (2006) found that lavender reduced anxiety in female patients on chronic hemodialysis (renal treatment failure).

Moos et al. (2008) randomly assigned 144 volunteers to different odor conditions: ylang-ylang, mint, or no odor control. Cognitive performance was assessed using tests of spatial working memory, word recognition, and image recognition, among others.

The results showed the following:

"Peppermint resulted in a significant improvement in overall memory quality compared to control and ylang-ylang conditions" (p. 73).

Also the speed of memory tests:

"...indicated that ylang-ylang significantly reduced reaction times compared to controls...ylang-ylang produced the slowest reaction times" (p. 73).

3. The visual sensory register

Visual sensory registration refers to the first level of encoding of visual stimuli. Sperling (1960) was one of the first to study visual sensory storage and found that it lasts for about 1/3thirdof a second.

Sperling used a T-scope (tachistoscope) to present an illustrated card showing various letters: 3-7 letters on a single line, or 3 lines of 3-4 letters each.

The T-Scope showed the image at 1/20ºa second, after which the participants were asked to remember as many letters as possible. Most of the participants could remember 3 to 4 letters.

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"The fact that observers commonly claim that they can see more than they can report suggests that memory places limits on a process that would otherwise be rich in available information" (p. 26).

In other studies, Sperling showed a tone 1/3thirdabout a second after the stim card disappears. The greater the pitch offset, the greater the decrease in memory.

These results suggest that "short-term information retention has been tentatively identified with the persistence of sensation...that of a rapidly disappearing visual image of the stimulus" (p. 26).

4. Coding and perception of taste

The sense of taste has survival value in most species. A sweet taste indicates the presence of sugar, which can provide the body with energy. However, a bitter taste can serve as a warning of harmful chemicals.

According to neuroscientistsdavid hilltaste buds regenerate every 10 days.

This leads to an interesting question about taste coding, as Dr. Colina says:

"If taste cells are constantly changing, how does the nervous system ensure that reliable information reaches the brain when the receptor system is constantly changing?"

In addition to the well-known role of taste buds in encoding sensory information, they are also important areas of the brain.

Research has shown that sweet and bitter tastes are processed in two different areas of the taste cortex. In a demonstration of how powerful the cortex is in taste perception, theNational Institute of Healthdescribe a study that used cortical manipulations to alter taste preferences.

"Researchers have shown that stimulation of the sweet cortical field can cause mice to prefer a bitter compound. On the other hand, stimulation of the bitter cortical field elicited an aversion to a sweet compound."

5. Visual coding in the classroom

Instructional posters, student artwork, and themed decorations are common features of a well-designed classroom environment. However, there may be reason to believe that the presence of so many visual stimuli is detrimental to learning.

Highly decorated classrooms have been described as “visual bombardment” (Bullard, 2010, p. 110) and “a cacophony of images” (Tarr, 2004, p. 1).

So many visual stimuli can distract young learners and disrupt the encoding of semantic knowledge. To investigate this possibility, Fisher et al. (2014) conducted short reading lessons with 24 kindergarten children.

The students attended six classes over a two-week period. Half were taught in a decorated classroom, the other half in a sparsely decorated classroom. All lessons were videotaped and then coded for on-task and off-task behavior.

All students completed a test on this topic immediately after the end of the lesson.

The results showed that the students:

"they spent significantly more off-task instructional time in the decorated classroom than in the sparse classroom...learning outcomes were better in the sparse classroom than in the sparsely decorated classroom" (p. 6).


Encoding is the first step in processing environmental stimuli. All sensory modalities have coding systems that differ in their operation.

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Although not well studied, science has discovered that the taste cells on the tongue regenerate rapidly, while the areas of the brain that process these sensations do not.

Research on visual encoding shows that it takes less than a second. Unfortunately, too many visual stimuli can interfere with other forms of encoding. For example, kindergarten children learn less in classrooms with a lot of visual stimuli.

On the other hand, some essential oils (peppermint) can improve memory, while others (ylang-ylang) can slow down processing.

Interestingly, tonal languages ​​are better encoded in the auditory brain stem of musicians than in non-musicians.

As research continues, more exciting discoveries about coding will emerge that will further our understanding of the amazing human cerebral cortex. Which will likely be applied to AI so eventually humans no longer need their brains.


Bullard, J. (2010).Creating learning environments: from birth to eight years.Upper Saddle River, Nueva Jersey: Prentice Hall.

Eysenck, MW (2005).Psychology for the AS level. Nova York: Taylor & Francis.

Fiedler, K. (2011).social comunication. Nueva York: Psychologiepresse.

Fisher, A.V., Godwin, K.E. & Seltman, H. (2014). Visual environment, attention allocation, and learning in young children: when too much of a good thing can be bad.psychological science,25(7), 1362-1370. Doi:

Fincher, S.A., y Robins, A.V. (Hrsg.). (2019).The cambridge handbook of educational informatics research. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Itai T, Amayasu M, Kuribayashi N, Kawamura M, Okada A, Momose T, Tateyama K, Narumi W, Uematsu S and Kaneko T. (2000) Psychological effects of aromatherapy in patients with chronic hemodialysis.Psychiatry and Clinical Neuroscience, 54(4), 393–397. Doi:https://doi.org/10.1046/j.1440-1819.2000.00727.x

Martin, GN (1996). Odor correction: current findings and possible applications.Social Sciences and Medicine, 43, 63–70. Doi:https://doi.org/10.1016/0277-9536(95)00334-7

Moss M, Hewitt S, Moss L, and Wesnes K (2008). Modulation of cognitive performance and mood through the aromas of mint and ylang-ylang.International Journal of Neuroscience,118(1), 59-77. Doi\;https://doi.org/10.1080/00207450601042094

Sperling, G. (1960). Information available in short visual presentations.Psychology Monographs: General and Applied, 74, 1-29.https://doi.org/10.1037/h0093759

Tarr, P (2004). Look at the walls.small children, 59(3), 1–5.

Wong PC, Skoe E, Russo NM, Dees T, and Kraus N (2007). Musical experience shapes the encoding of linguistic sound patterns in the human brain stem.neuroscience of nature,10(4), 420–422.https://doi.org/10.1038/nn1872

10 examples of coding (psychology) (2023) (2)

Dave Cornell (PhD)

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Cornell Physician has been involved in education for over 20 years. His work has included creating a teacher certification for Trinity College London and in-service training for state governments in the United States. He has trained kindergarten teachers in 8 countries and helped entrepreneurs and women open nurseries and kindergartens in 3 countries.

10 examples of coding (psychology) (2023) (3)

Chris Drew (PhD)

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This article was peer reviewed and edited by Chris Drew (PhD). The evaluation process inhelpful teacherinvolves the review, editing, and contribution of articles by a doctoral-level expert. Reviewers ensure that all content reflects the consensus of scientific experts and is supported by references to scientific studies. Drew MD has published more than 20 scientific articles in peer-reviewed journals. He is a former editor of the Journal of Learning Development in Higher Education and has a Ph.D. in Education from ACU.


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