AQA As Psychology Unit 1 Memory Cognitive Revision Notes

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Cognitive Memory:
Key Words
Short-term memory: a temporary store where small amounts of information can be kept for brief periods. It is a
fragile store and information can be easily lost.
Long-term memory: A permanent store where limitless amounts of information can be stored for long periods of
Capacity: the amount of information that can be held in memory at any one time
Duration: the length of time that memories can be held.
Encoding: the way in which information is represented in the memory store, e.g by sound, meaning or image.
Sensory memory: A set of limited capacity, modality-specific stores that hold information for a very brief period of
Displacement: a type of forgetting where the items currently in the limited capacity STM are pushed out before
being transferred to LTM to make room for incoming items.
Interference: A type of forgetting where information stored in LTM is confused with similar information.
The Multi-Store Model
Atkinson and Shiffrin
Envisaged memory as a flow of information through an information-processing system. The system is divided into a
series of stages as information passes from one store to another in a fixed sequence
Visual, auditory, haptic coding Mainly acoustic coding Mainly semantic coding
Limited capacity Limited capacity Unlimited capacity
Very brief duration Brief duration Unlimited duration
Structural model ­ focuses on the storage components of the memory system
Studies on the Multi-Store Model of Memory
The sensory store:
Sperling (1960) ­ showed participants a grid of digits in 3 rows for 50 milliseconds (blink of an eye). They were either
asked to write down all items or they were told they would hear a tone immediately after and they should just write
down the row which the tone corresponded to.
When asked to recall all the digits, he found their recall was poor (5 items recalled, about 42%). When asked to recall
only 1 row the results were much higher, (3 items recalled, 75%). This shows that information decays rapidly in the
sensory store.
The serial position effect:
Glanzer and Cunitz (1966) ­ participants read 20 words one at a time and were asked to recall as many as they
could. They found that the words at the start of the list were rehearsed into the LTM. Words at the end of the list
were fresh in their mind (STM) and words in the middle decayed.
Areas of the brain
Participants took MRI scans while doing a memory test. The pictures of their brains were then analysed.
Beardsley (1997) ­ found that in the STM, the prefrontal cortex is active.
Squire et al. (1992) ­ found that in the LTM, the hippocampus is active.
Case studies

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HM (Scoville and Milner, 1957) ­ did a case study on a man who had severe epilepsy. He had both his hippocampi
removed and then he could not form new long-term memories.
They found that the hippocampus might be the gateway to the LTM. KF (Shallice and Warrington, 1970) ­ the
patient KF has a motorbike crash and experienced brain damage. KF had poor STM but his LTM was normal. He
couldn't deal with verbal information but he could remember visual information.…read more

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D/E/C Overview:
Peterson and Peterson (1959)
AIM: of the experiment was to test how long STM lasts when rehearsal is prevented.
PROCEDURE: The participants were briefly shown a consonant trigram (i.e. 3 letters such as CPW or NGV).
Participants were asked to count backwards in threes from a specified number to stop them thinking about the
letters. After intervals of 3, 6, 9, 12, 15 or 18 seconds, participants were asked to recall the original trigram.…read more

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CONCLUSION: Bahrick concluded that people can remember certain types of information for almost a lifetime. The
accuracy of VLTM is better when measured by recognition tests than by recall tests.
Unlike many memory experiments, this study used meaningful stimulus material (high-school yearbooks) and
tested people for memories from their own lives.
- It is unclear whether the drop-off in accuracy after 47 years reflects the limits of duration or a more general
decline in memory with age.…read more

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Miller (1956) 7+/-2
Why are there so many things that come in sevens ­ such as seven wonders of the world, seven deadly sins, seven
primary colours, seven notes of the musical scale, and seven days of the week?
Miller (1956) reviewed psychological research to see what had been discovered. Investigations into various
cognitive abilities have found that people can easily distinguish three musical tones, but when they asked to
distinguish between five or more tones they become progressively more confused.…read more

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The Working Memory Model (WMM):
The Working Memory Model was developed by Baddeley and Hitch (1974).
and Hitch felt that STM was not just one store but a number of different stores. This suggests that there is one store
for visual processing and one store for processing sounds.
Central executive: Monitors and coordinates all other mental functions in working memory. Directs attention to
particular tasks. Data arrives from senses or LTM. The central executive has very limited capacity.…read more

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Using case studies from brain damaged people, you cannot make before and after comparisons so you cannot
see whether changes in memory are caused by brain damage.
Berz found the model fails to account for musical memory.
It can account for individual differences in memory processing. Turner and Engle (1989) devised a test to
measure the capacity of working memory. The number of works correctly recalled was called the `working
memory span'
Applied to real life settings.…read more

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Some critics of Loftus' studies have said that her participants were subject to demand characteristics. However,
Lofus devised a new experiment to refute this criticism.
Emotional arousal may actually enhance the accuracy of memory, as Christianson and Hubinette (1993) found
when they interviewed 110 real witnesses to bank robberies. Those witnesses who had been threatened were
more accurate in their recall and remembered more details than those who had been onlookers and less
emotionally aroused. This continued to be true even 15 months later.…read more

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When they showed people a video of a staged bank hold-up, the participants had better recall for elements of the
film that conformed to their schema than to elements that did not.
Lindsay et al (2004)
Read accounts to participants of either a palace burglary or a school field trip to a palace.
On the next day, all the participants were shown a video of a museum burglary and then asked to recall events from
the video.…read more

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The differential experience hypothesis
Brigham and Malpass (1985) ­ suggest that the more contact we have with members of a particular age group or
ethnic group, the better our memory would be for such individuals.
Flin et al (1992)
EWT become less accurate over time and that this decline is more marked in children. Questioned children and
adults one day after an incident and then again 5 months later.…read more


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