Memory

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Capacity

  • The amount of storage space that is available
  • Different types of memory have different storage capacities (usually measured by the number of items that can be stored at any one time)
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Duration

  • How long the information lasts
  • It's 'lifespan'
  • Different types of memory have different duration (ranging from seconds to a lifetime)
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Encoding

  • For information to be remebered it is converted into different formats
  • Each memory store needs a different format
  • Visual (images)
  • Acoustic (sounds)
  • Semantic (meanings)
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Information loss

  • Information loss occurs across all of the memory stores and there are many different reasons for this
  • Decay: information fades away with time
  • Displacement: newer information pushes older information out
  • Retrieval failure: information is stored but cannot be retrieved or accessed
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MSM: Sensory Memory (SM)

  • SM is equivalent to any one of the senses eg. the ear or eye. Information can come into the memory system through any of these senses
  • Information can be held very briefly (seconds)
  • If attention is focused on it, it can be transferred to the STM
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MSM: Short-term Memory (STM)

  • Information is maintained into STM through rehearsal, otherwise it will decay after aproximately 30 seconds
  • The store can hold approximately 7 items at any one time so older information can be displaced by newer incoming information
  • Encoding is acoustic
  • Increasing rehearsal leads to transfer from STM to LTM
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MSM: Long-term Memory (LTM)

  • LTM has potentially unlimited capacity and duration
  • Information is encoded semantically 
  • There are a number of ways in which information can be lost from here (decay and retrieval failure) but lasting memory is created by rehearsal
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Evaluation of the MSM

Strengths:

  • Support for the existence of two memory stores (Glanzer and Cunitz 1966) using the serial position effect
  • The case of HM provides evidence for the existence of two memory stores
  • There is much research support for the model eg. studies of capacity, duration and encoding
  • The model matches our common sense perception of memory
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Evaluation of the MSM

Weaknesses

  • Its criticised for oversimplifying the memory stores. Both STM and LTM are thought to be far more complex than the unitary stores proposed
  • MSM emphasises the role of rehearsal in memory transfer by it's not always necessary. We can and do remember information that is not rehearsed
  • Criticised for focusing on the structure of memory rather than the processes
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WMM: Central Executive

The main role is to decide how to allocate its resources (how to share out incoming information to the other 'slave' systems

  • It accepts information from any sense
  • It has a limited capacity
  • It is flexible; it can multi-task or attend to one thing while inhibiting attention to another
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WMM: Phonological Loop

The phonological loop stores and retains acoustic, verbal information. It has a limited capacity and is divided into:

  • The phonological store (inner ear): which holds acoustically coded information,(mainly speech for a brief period)
  • The articulatory rehearsal process (inner voice): which allows subvocal rehearsal of items stored in the phonological store eg. words we are about to say.
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WMM: Visuo-spatial Sketchpad

The visuo-spatial sketchpad (inner eye) briefly stores visual and spatial information and has a limited capacity

  • Information is encoded as images
  • It is involved in pattern and movement perception (spatial awareness)
  • It can create and manipulate visual and spatial images eg. a mental map of a route you want to take
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WMM: Episodic Buffer

  • Added by Baddeley in 2000 and is responsible for the manipulation and integration of information in our working memories.
  • Eg. in order to imagine an elephant playing ice hokey we would use the existing knowledge in our LTM about elephants and ice hockey, the episodic buffer would manipulate and integrate this information to form a new image
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Evaluation of the WMM

Strengths

  • Provides a more thorough explanation of storage and processing in STM than the MSM
  • Explains why it is easier to do two tasks that are different (verbal and visual) than doing two tasks that are simular. This has been shown experimentally by using dual tasks (eg. the verbal reasoning and 'F' tasks)
  • The WMM is seen as a work in progress and allows a framework from which research can be generated. new evidence allows refinement of the model as was the case for the addition of the episodic buffer 
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Evaluation of the WMM

Weaknesses

  • The WMM only concerned with STM and so doesn't provide a comprehensive model of memory
  • The least is known about the most important component (central executive) It isn't clear what it does or how it works
  • There may be more than one component in the central executive and this oversimplification could be as misguided as the MSM's unitary STM
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