AS Psychology, Unit 1 Cognitive Memory

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AS Psychology Notes
Cognitive Memory
Duration of STM:
Doesn't last long ­ 18 seconds.
Rehearsal keeps information in STM.
Will eventually become long term.
Studies of duration of STM:
Lloyd and Margaret Peterson (1959) conducted a study of the duration of STM. They used
24 university students. They tested their recall as follows: the experimenter showed a
consonant trigram to the participants followed by a 3 digit number. The consonant syllable
was selected to have no meaning ­ for example `BBC' has a meaning but `BCB' doesn't.
Immediately after hearing the syllable and number, the participant had to could backwards
from the number in 3's or 4's until told to stop. They were then asked to recall the
consonant trigram. The reason they were asked to count backwards is so that it prevents
rehearsal. On each trial, retention interval (time spent counting backwards) was increased by
3 seconds. When there was only a 3 second interval, participants remembered about 90%
and when there was an 18 second interval, about 2% was remembered. This suggests that
when rehearsal is prevented, STM lasts about 20 seconds at most.
Criticism's of Peterson and Peterson's research:
They were only studying one kind of memory.
They weren't testing duration; the nonsense trigram could have been displaced in STM by
the numbers, thus wiping out the memory for the syllables.
Capacity of STM:
We test capacity of STM by using a serial digit span study.
Jacobs (1887) conducted a study; participants were presented with an increasingly long
sequence of digits that they have to report back in order. When they fail on 50% of the
trials, they've reached their digit span capacity.
Miller (1956) found that the capacity of STM is increased by combining or organising
separate bits of information into chunks (chunking). He found that the capacity is 7±2. He
also found that the size of chunk matters ­ the longer the chunk the shorter our memory
span. Chunking things together lets us remember things more.

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Duration of LTM:
LTM refers to memories that last anywhere from 2 hours to 100 years
Constant rehearsal could keep information in long term memory
Studies of duration of LTM:
Bahrick et al. 1975, demonstrated a study testing the duration of LTM. People of various
ages were asked to put names to faces from their high school year book. 48 years on,
people were about 70% accurate. Picture recognition and name recognition was more
accurate than free recall.…read more

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The serial position effect:
Glanzer and Cunitz (1966) used free recall of a list of 20 items combined with an interference
task to show that there are 2 processes involved in retrieving information. They showed lists
of 20 words one at a time and had subjects recall the words under one of three conditions.…read more

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For example, doing a complex sum in your head.
The working memory model consists of 4 components: central executive, phonological loop,
visuo-spatial sketchpad and episodic buffer.
Central executive:
Function: drives the system, decides how attention is directed, allocates the resources, has
no storage capacity, has limited capacity so cannot attend to many things at once.
Evidence: Bunge et al.…read more

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Strengths of the Working Memory Model:
Unlike some other models (e.g., the MSM), the working memory model explains not only
the storage, but also the processing of information.
The model proposes specific and separate functions and subsystems, so new predictions
and hypotheses can be drawn up for testing.
It is consistent with records of brain-damaged patients.…read more

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The researchers found that the more forceful the word was, the higher the
speed estimated was. With the word `smashed', 40.1 mph was estimated and with the word
`bumped', 31.0 mph was estimated. This shows how misleading questions can influence
answers. This was also a lab experiment therefore it may not represent real life because
people don't take the experiment seriously and are not emotionally aroused in the way they
would be in a real accident.…read more

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Age of witness: This is important to test as nowadays children are becoming more evident in
courtrooms as child abuse increases. Parker and Carranza compared the ability of primary
school children and college students to correctly identify a target individual following a slide
sequence of a mock crime. This was done using a photo identification task.…read more

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Research was done into the effectiveness of the cognitive interview; a meta -analysis of 53
studies found that when the cognitive interview was used, there was an increase of 34% in
the amount of correct information recalled in comparison with standard interviewing
techniques. However, most of these studies tested volunteer witnesses (usually college
students) in laboratories. This means these studies would have been low in population
validity as they can't be generalised to the public. This was gathered by Kohnken et al.…read more

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Also, participants were given 100 cards with 2
unrelated words (e.g. cat and brick). Participants who thought of an image linking the two
recalled 80% of the words while those with no images remembered only 45%, (Bower,
1972).…read more

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