Chapter 8 Notes
Memory – The cognitive processes of encoding, storing, and retrieving information.
Encoding – The process by which sensory information is converted into a form that can be used by the
brain’s memory system.
Storage – The process of maintaining information in memory.
Retrieval – The active processes of locating and using stored information.
Psychologists are referring to 2 approaches when trying to understand memory: Literal and Metaphorical
Literal being the physical effects on the brain when the organism learns something which usually
concerns physiological psychologists and neuroscientists. Metaphorical being the conceptuality of
information processing models of memory which usually concern cognitive psychologists.
Memory is useful in the time lapse between learning and responding to what has been learnt.
Psychologists find it useful to consider 3 forms in our memory:
Sensory memory – Memory in which representations of the physical features of a stimulus are stored for
very brief durations (a second or less). It is difficult to distinguish from the act of perception. The
function of the sensory memory appears to be to hold information long enough for it to become part of the
next form of memory i.e. short-term memory
Short-term memory – An immediate memory for stimuli that have just been perceived. It is limited in
terms of both capacity (7 plus or minus 2 chunks of information) and duration (less than 20 seconds).
Long-term memory – Memory in which information is represented on a permanent or near-permanent
Presumably, long-term memory occurs because of physical changes that take place in the brain.
This flow chart of information from the sensory input to the long-term memory is coined as the modal
model of memory. However, some cognitive psychologists argue that no real distinction exists between
short-term and long-term memory; instead they are different phases of a continuous process.
Although we have a sensory memory for each sense modality, research has focused on 2 important forms:
Chapter 8 Notes
Iconic memory – A form of sensory memory that holds a brief visual image of a scene that has just been
perceived; also known as visible persistence.
Sperling (1960) tested using letters and tones through a tachistoscope. He discovered that the participants
had all the 9 letters stored in their iconic memory but as the delay occurred between the letters and sound,
only 4 or 5 letters were able to reach the short-term memory.
Echoic memory – A form of sensory memory for sounds that have just been perceived. It holds a
representation of the initial sounds until the entire word has been heard. Evidence from partial-report
procedures suggests that echoic memory lasts less than 4 seconds.
Information can enter short-term memory in 2 ways:
Long-term memory. It is not directly recalled; information is first moved to short-term memory
and then recalled.
Working memory – Memory for new information and information retrieved from long-term memory;
used in this text as another name for short-term memory.
Free-recall task is recalling all the words that come to your mind after the experimenter has read from a
list and writing them down.
Primacy effect – The tendency to remember initial information. In the memorization of a list of words,
the primacy effect is evidenced by better recall of the words early in the list.
Recency effect – The tendency to recall later information. In the memorization of a list of words, the
recency effect is evidenced by better recall of the last words in the list.
The primacy effect appears to be due to the fact that words earlier in a list have the opportunity to be
rehearsed more than words in the other parts of the list. The rehearsal permits them to be stored in long-
term memory. The recency effect occurs due to the fact that the words are in your short-term memory and
therefore you end up remembering the words from your long-term memory and the few words in your
short-term memory. (Atkinson and Shiffrin, 1968)
Memory follows predictable patterns and is dependent on the contributions of rehearsal and short-term
memory. We cannot observe their behaviours directly, but we can observe their consequences.
Lloyd and Margaret Peterson (1959) performed an experiment where they made participants rehearse JRG
at first, then they disallowed rehearsing and after showing JRG they immediately made them count
backwards by 3 of a 3 digit number and asked them to recall the 3 consonants. The result showed that
Chapter 8 Notes
after 18 seconds, the recall signal practically drop to 0. So they concluded that without rehearsing, the
information remains in the working memory for less than 20 seconds.
Note: Miller (1956) determined the capacity
Chunking – A process by which information is simplified by rules, which make it easily remembered
once the rules are learned. For example, the string of letters GSTCBCRCMP are easier to remember if a
person learns the rule that organizes them into smaller “chunks”: GST, CBC, and RCMP.
The capacity of short-term memory for verbal material depends on how much meaning the information
We have solid evidence for only 2 types of information in working memory: verbal and visual.
Phonological short-term memory – Short-term memory for verbal information. Phonological coding
could involve either the auditory system of the brain or the system that controls speech.
Conrad (1964) showed how people encode visual information acoustically inside to make mistakes.
Usually the auditory conversation is when people are talking to themselves either by moving their lips or
not moving their lips.
Subvocal articulation – An unvoiced speech utterance.
When we imagine saying something, the voice in our head is probably controlled by the activity of
neurons in motor association cortex.
Conrad (1970) repeated his experiment from 6 years ago on deaf children in order to see whether they
would also make acoustical errors. The result was the same, they did make acoustical errors but
surprisingly the ones who made them were rated as the best speaker by their teacher. So, the children who
could speak the best encoded the letters in terms of the movements they would make to pronounce them.
This study provides a clear evidence for an articulatory code in working memory. People who can both
hear and speak may use both acoustic and articulatory codes i.e. hearing the word and then repeating the
word to themselves in their head. Phonological codes in long-term memory also help to strengthen the
Conduction aphasia – An inability to remember words that are heard, although they usually can be
understood and responded to appropriately. This disability is caused by damage to Wenicke’s and Broca’s
They use synonyms instead of the actual word as they understand the sentence but just don’t have the
ability to repeat the sentence using the exact same words. The 2 regions of the cerebral cortex are believed
to have disrupted connections due to this brain damage. Wenicke’s area is concerned with the perception
of speech and Broca’s area is concerned with the production of speech. Perhaps, the damage disrupts
acoustical short-term memory by making subvocal verbal rehearsal difficult or impossible.