Psychology Memory Revision

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Psychology Revision ­ Memory
Definitions within Memory
The mental process used to encode, store and retrieve information.
Encoding involves changing the information presented into a different form. Since words or other items
in the short term store are rehearsed or repeated, we might assume that they are encoded in terms of
their sound (acoustic coding). In contrast, the information we have stored in the long term memory
nearly always seems to be stored in terms of its meaning (semantic coding).
Encoding takes many different forms visual, auditory, semantic, taste and smell.
The short term store has very limited capacity, about 7 items. In contrast the capacity of the long term
memory is assumed to be so large that it cannot be filled, it is said to have unlimited capacity and lasts
potentially forever.
Information lasts longer in the long term store than in the short term store,. There is evidence that in the
short term store, if not rehearsed, information will disappear within about 18 ­ 20 seconds and in
contrast there is evidence that elderly people can recognise the names of fellow students from 48 years
As a result of encoding, the information is stored in the memory system it can remain stored for a very
long time maybe a entire lifetime.
Recovering information from the memory system. Can be known as recall or remembering.
Short term Memory
Short term Memory ­ A temporary place for storing information. Short term memory has a very limited
capacity and short duration, unless the information within it is maintained through rehearsal.
Capacity in STM (Jacobs):
To investigate how much information can be held in short term memory.
To do this, Jacob's needed an accurate measure of STM capacity ­ he devised a technique called the
serial digit span
His research was the first systematic study of STM
This was a laboratory study using the digit span technique
P's were presented with a sequence of letters or digits
This was followed by a serial recall (repeating back the letters or digits in the same order they were
The pace of the item presentation was controlled to half second intervals through a metronome
Initially, the sequence was 3 items ­ it was then increased by a single item until the participant
consistently failed to reproduce the sequence correctly
This was repeated over a number of trials to establish the participants' digit span.
The longest sequence length that was recalled correctly on at least 50% of the trials was taken to be
the P's STM digit span
Jacobs found that the average STM span (number of items recalled) was between 5 and 9 items
Digits were recalled better (9.3 items) than letter (7.3 items)
Individual differences were found, explaining the range of 59
STM span increased with age ­ in one sample he found an 6.6 average for 8 year old children
compared to 8.6 for 19 year olds
The findings show that STM has a limited storage capacity of between 5 and 9 items
The capacity of STM is not determined much by the nature of the information to be learned but by the
size of the STM span, which is fairly constant across individuals of a given age
Individual differences of STM span increasing with age may be due to increasing brain capacity or
improved memory techniques, such as chunking
+ The study has great historical importance because it represents the first systematic attempt to assess
the capacity of STM

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The research lacks mundane realism as the digitspan task is not representative of everyday memory
demands ­ the artificiality of the task may have made the results biased. Letters and numbers are not
very meaningful, so may not be remembered as well as meaningful information.
This means that the capacity of STM may be greater for everyday memory.…read more

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Long term Memory ­ A relatively permanent store, which has unlimited capacity and duration. Different
kinds of long term memory have been identified episodic (memory for personal events), semantic
(memory for facts and information) and procedural (memory for actions and skills).

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There are huge differences in the duration of information in the short term and long term memory.
Unrehearsed information in the shortterm memory had vanished after about 20 seconds (Peterson &
Peterson). In contrast some information in the longterm memory is still there 48 years after learning
(Bahrick et al.)
The model argues that the transfer of information for short term to longterm memory is through
rehearsal.…read more

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The time of day may have been a confounding variable, the sleeping group learned before going to
bed and the awake group learned during the day.
It is artificial and lacks mundane realism
There is also no control over what the sleeping group were doing during the retention period.
Tulving and Psotka found that when a cued recall task was given the effects of interference
disappear.…read more

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The questions asked can be termed `leading' questions because they affected the P's memory of the
The answer to a leading question is in the question ­ the question contains information about what the
answer should be.
Therefore, language can have a distorting affect on Eyewitness testimony, which can lead to inaccurate
accounts of witnessed events.
It is possible that the memory had been reconstructed. However, it is also possible that the original
memory may have been replaced or experienced interference.…read more


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