Multi-Store Model of Memory

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  • Created by: hlouiset
  • Created on: 07-05-16 15:18



The multi-store model of memory was introduced by Atkinson and Shiffrin. It describes how information flows the the memory system. Memory is made of three stores linked by processing.

                                  Rehearsal Loop

                                      ^          v

Sensory  -attention->  Short Term  <-recall/store->  Long Term

Register                        Memory                                Memory

vvvvvv                           vvvvv                                      vvv

Loss                               Loss                                     Loss

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Sensory Register

Stimuli from the environment passes into the sensory register. The sensory register processes thousands of stimuli every second. It is separated into five different stores including iconic, echoic and haptic.


Possibly unlimited


Sense dependent


0.25-0.5 seconds

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Short Term Memory

Information passes from the sensory register to the short term memory; for this to happen attention need to be paid to it. The short term memory is a limited capacity and duration store.


7 +/- 2




18-30 seconds maximum without rehearsal

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Long Term Memory

Information that is rehearsed fo long enough it is passed from the short term memory to the long term memory. Long term memory is a permanent memory store. When memories are recalled from the long term memory they are transferred back to the short term memory.


Potentially unlimited




Upto a lifetime

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Eval. Strengths

Research support - Baddeley (1966) found that people tend to mix up words that are acoustically similar when using the short term memory, but mix up semantically similar words when using the long term memory. This shows the difference in coding and support the theory of the memory stores being separate and independent - High reliability

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Eval. Limitations

Evidence suggests there is more than one type of short term memory - Shallice and Warrington (1970) studied KF. KF's short term memory digits were poor when they read them out to him but his recall was better when he read the digits himself. The model suggets there is only one short term memory; KF study suggests there is more than one - one to process visual information and one to process audiory information. 

Only one kind of rehearsal is explained - Craik and Watkins (1973) suggested there are two types of rehearsal - maintenance and elaborative. Maintenence is explained in the multi-store model of memory; elaborative rehearsal is needed for long term storage. This occurs when people link information to existing knowledge or process it - Lacks reliability

Supporting studies use artificial materials - Researchers often asked participants to recall digits, letters or words. In everyday life people form memories related to all sorts of useful thingssuch as peoples faces and names. This means that the studies cannot be generalised to real life situations - Lacks external validity

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