Alternative to MSM


Introduction and LOP description

  • MSM first described by Atkinson and Shiffrin (1968)
  • Since then reserach has increased our understanding of the structure and process of memory, showing it is more complex than the MSM suggested
  • This reserach includes levels of processing (LOP) approach and the working memory model (WMM)
  • LOP was proposed by Craik and Lockhart (1972). Suggested enduring memories are created by the processing that happens rather than through maintenance rehersal. Rcognised that people process memories in different ways; some is processed more deeper than others.
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Supportive evidence for LOP

  • Mandler (1967) - asked participants to sort 52 word cards into up to 7 piles. Each participant was required to do this until the sort was 95% consistant. Recall was best for those who had the post categories and worst for those who had the least. Suggests that the act of organising information makes it more memorable without conscious effort or rehersal.
  • Issues with ecological validity. Most poeple are not familiar with sorting out word cards into piles, this means they would recognise it is an experiment and may behave differently on purpose.
  • Baddeley (1982) - found that amnesiacs can create long term memories despite having a severly damaged STM. Shows that MSM must not be correct and LOP is more realistic.
  • Study has issues with ethics. The experimenter would not be able to get informed consent of off the participants because of their illness resulting in them being vulnerable to psychological harm.
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Contradictory evidence of LOP

  • Morris et al (1977) - rhyming recognition test. Participants were asked to recall words that rhymed with the stimulus word. The words that were not deeply processed were the ones that were best remebered. Shows that there are other explanations for memory, not just processing.
  • Issues with ecological validity - people not familiar with recalling rhyming words - could lead to demand characteristics.
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WMM description and supportive evidence

  • WMM proposed by Baddeley and Hitch (1974) - explained the memory needed when working on a complex task which requires individuals to store infomration as they go along, e.g. working on a long calculation. Different components of the model including the central executive which directs attention to particular tasks and the slave systems (phonological loop, visuospatial sketchpad and episodic buffer).
  • Baddeley et al (1975) - demonstrated existance of visuospatial sketchpad. Participants given visual tracking task at the same time they were igve 2 other tasks (describe angle on letter F and perform a verbal task). Task 1 difficult but not 2 because it involes a different slave system.
  • Issues with EV - dont ususally have to concentrate on 3 tasks at once - lead to knowing it is an experiment and demand characteristics.
  • Shallice and Warrington (1970) - studied FK whose brian was injured in motorcycle accident. Found that STM works independantly to LTM as STM impaired but had no problem with long term learning.
  • Issues with generalisabilty - not valid when applied to other cases.
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Contradictory evidence of WMM and conclusion

  • Eslinger and Damasio (1985) - consept of central executive too vague and doesnt really explain anything. Feel as if one single executive is wrong and that there are probably several components. 
  • D'Esposito (2007) - STM better conceptualised as a property of many different areas of the brain, the opposite of the WMM.
  • In conclusion, there are 2 main alternatives to the MSM, these are the LOP and WMM. Both have supporting evidence explaining why it is the best apporach to use.
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