Sperlings study

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Name: Sperling

Date: 1960

Topic: Sensory memory

Type of experiment: Lab

The first experiment

Method of study:

  • Sperling used a chart containing three rows of letters, which he displayed for very brief exposures - 50 milliseconds - to his participants
  • Participants were immediately asked to recall as many of the letters as possible


  • Participants could usually only recall about 4 or 5 letters
  • However, participants reported having been aware of more letters even though they could no longer recall them

The second experiment

Method of study:

  • By changing his study slightly, he trained participants to distinguish between three tones
  • He then exposed the chart for the same amount of time - 50 milliseconds but this time , he played one of the


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