The models of memory

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Models of memory
The Multi- store model
The Multi- store model (MSM) of memory was proposed by Atkinson and Shiffrin suggests that the
memory is a flow of information through a system in a linear pattern. It consists of 3 distinct
stages which are sensory memory (SM), short- term memory (STM) and long- term memory (LTM).
the environmental stimulus first enters the SM in an uncoded form where it stays for a very brief
period of time. In order for information to be passed to into STM, attention is vital. The STM can
store ±7 items for approximately 15- 30 seconds acoustically. Information held in the STM is in a
fragile state either because it simply decays or because new information comes along and
displaces the old information if not rehearsed. If the information is sufficiently rehearsed it can
enter LTM where limited information can be stored for as long as lifetime through semantic
One of the strengths of the MSM is that it is supported by neurological case studies. The MSM
claims that STM and LTM are two separate store, which is supported by the case study of Clive
Wearing. He had his hippocampus removed due to a viral infection which meant that he could not
move information from STM into LTM. However, due to being a case study we must be cautious as
it is concerned with a particular individual and therefore cannot be generalised to a whole
Further evidence for two separate store is provided by the medical technology such as PET and
MRI scans which show different brain patterns when patients were carrying out tasks associated
with STM and LTM.
Similarly lab experiments such as the research on the primacy and recency effect also provide
evidence for two separate stores. Glanzer and Cunitz found that the participants who were asked
to remember a list of words could remember the first and last few words, while the middle one
were more difficult to remember. This supports that idea that there are two separate stores as the
first words were in the LTM, whereas the last words were still in the STM. However most of the
studies which support the MSM lack validity due to being lab experiments. The material given to
the participants to remember is unlike the information we have to remember every day, therefore
the result can not necessarily be applied to everyday life.
One of the main criticism of the MSM is that it over simplifies memory structure and processes.
According to the MSM the STM and LTM are unitary store however there is evidence that there
are different kinds of STM and LTM. For example the case study of KF suggests that the STM is not
a single store. Due to brain damage KF was unable to process verbal information in STM but had a
normal ability to process visual information, this implies that the STM is more complex. Similarly,

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LTM rather than
the LTM being a single store. Schachter suggested there are 4 kinds of long- term stores which are;
semantic memory, episodic memory, procedural memory and perceptual- representation system
Another criticism of the MSM is that it overemphasises the role of rehearsal in form LTM.
According to the MSM, elaborative rehearsal is the only way that information can pass from the
STM to LTM.…read more

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Despite its great explanatory power, one of the weakness of the working memory model is that it
does not give adequate explanation for the central executive. The model suggests that the central
executive allocates information which seems to be the same as attention. Many believe it must
sub-divided into different components rather than being an unitary component. The case study of
EVR suggests that the central executive must be sub divided.…read more


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