Notes on memory

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Memory ­ the process by which we retain information about events that have happened in
the past
Sensory memory
Shortterm memory
Longterm memory
Capacity = how much info can be stored in memory
Duration = how long the info can be held in the memory
Encoding = the way in which information is represented in the memory store (visual,
acoustic, semantic)
Sensory Memory
Information is collected by our senses. The sensory store then holds this information in a
relatively unprocessed form. The information decays rapidly.
Sperling (1960)
Participants were presented with a stimulus comprising 3 rows of 4 letters for 50
milliseconds. He found that participants could only remember 4 or 5 letters. This shows that
all letters are registered briefly in sensory memory, but because it is so brief you can't see
them all. So, information in our sensory memory is only stored for fractions of a second.
Shortterm Memory
A system for storing information for brief periods of time.
DURATION Peterson & Peterson (1959)
Participants were briefly shown a consonant trigram, and then asked to count backwards in
threes from a specified number to stop rehearsing these consonants. After 3,6,9,12,15 or 18
second intervals participants were asked to recall the trigram in order. It was found that
without rehearsal, the duration of STM is very short (less than 18 seconds).
CAPACITY ­ Miller (1956)
Miller reviewed psychological research using different stimuli in the serial recall task (letters,
dots, musical tones). He concluded that the capacity of STM was limited to seven ±2. Miller
further suggested that the capacity of the short term memory may be enlarged by grouping
items together by associations/links they have with each other (chunking)
ENCODING ­ Conrad (1964)
He presented participants with 2 letter lists, consisting of 6 consonants very rapidly.
P,C,V,T,B,D (acoustically similar)
L,Z,F,X,H,W (acoustically dissimilar)
After showing a letter list, participants had to write down the letters in the order they
remembered them appearing in. He found that participants made more mistakes when letters
were acoustically similar, compared to when they were acoustically dissimilar
Conrad concluded that the STM must rely on acoustic encoding, because when the letters
were very similar, participants found it very difficult to remember them.
Longterm memory
We don't know!!! It is very difficult to measure, but it is generally agreed by Psychologists

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that there is no upper limit.
CAPACITY Bahrick (1975)
The findings: 60% accuracy in remembering names of class mates after 47 years when given
name cards to match and 20% accuracy in remembering names of class mates after 47
years when given no name cards
Conclusion: The LTM has a huge duration which can last a life time, but various techniques
can be used to aid memory
ENCODING Baddeley (1966)
4 groups of participants:
1. Acoustically similar words
2. Acoustically dissimilar words
3.…read more


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