coding, capacity and duration of memory



Memory is stored in different formats once it is in the memory system, this depends on the memory store. The process of converting information from one form to another is called coding. Alan Baddeley (1966a, 1966b) gave different lists of words to four groups to remember:

~Group 1 (acoustically similar), words which sound similar, (e.g cat, cab, can).

~Group 2 (acoustically dissimilar), words sounded different, (e.g pit, few, cow)

~Group 3 (semantically similar), words with similar meanings, (e.g great, large, big)

~Group 4 (semantically dissimilar), words with no shared meanings, (good, huge, hot)

Pariticipants were shown the original words and then asked to recall them in the correct order, when having to do this recall task immediately after hearing it (STM) they tended to do worse with acoustically similar words . 

If participants were asked to recall the word list after an interval of 20 minutes (LTM), they did worse with the semantically similar words. This suggests that information is coded semantically in LTM.

EVALUATION -Artificial stimuli

One limitation of Baddeley's study was that it used quite artificial stimuli rather than meaningful material because the word lists had no personal meaning to the participant. Meaning that we should be careful generalising the findings to different kinds of memory tasks. For example, when processing more meaningful information, people may use even semantic coding for STM aswell. This suggests that the findings from this study have limited application.


How much information a memory store can hold at a time is it's capacity, Joseph Jacobs (1887) developed a technique which he used to measure digit span. The researcher, for example gives 4 digits to the pp and then the pp is asked to recall these in the correct order out loud. If the participants gets that correct then the researcher moves on to 5 digits and so on until the pp can no longer correctly recall the numbers in order, this will determine the individuals digit span. Jacobs results showed that the mean span for digits across all pp's was 9.3 items and the mean span for letters was 7.3.

EVALUATION- Lacking validity

One limitation of Jacobs


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