PSY270H1 Lecture 4: Short-Term Storage

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Published on 31 Jan 2019
PSY270 Lecture 4 Short-Term Storage
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Attention as a feature binder
The binding problem (1)
One role of attention may be to bind features
Visual search tasks involves using attention to focus on object
features in particular location
Feature search
Don’t need to look for other objects, only one feature
Ex: green circle among blue squares - search for
green item OR circular item
Presence or absence of target doesn’t influence feature
searches as much as conjunction searches
On average, feature searches reaction times are lower
Number of distractors does not affect reaction time for
feature searches
Conjunction search
Green circle among green squares and blue circles -
search for green circle
Have to focus on multiple features
Reaction time increases when number of distractors
Feature searches do not require attention (automatic task), but
conjunction searches do
According to feature integration theory visual search is a 2-stage
1. Single features does not require attention and “pops out”
automatically - this is the preattentive stage
If you can identify the object by identifying one
feature alone, you’ll be able to identify it (feature
searches), no features shared between target and
distractor (ex: look for the color green only)
2. Binding features requires attention - this is the focused
attention stage
For conjunction searches, it is a controlled task,
have to look at one object one location at a time
before you move onto the next
What do we want to know about memory
The type of things our memory can hold (how is information coded and stored)
The Limiting factors of memory
Capacity and duration (how much can memory hold and how long)
The Processes associated with memory
Encoding and retrieval
It was becoming increasingly clear that memory doesn’t act as a unitary system
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We can remember input for different amounts of time
The type of stimulus influences the duration of memory
Neuropsychological evidence suggested a double-dissociation between
long-term and short-term memory
Situation with Clive: can still follow a sentence, language is intact,
etc. no long-term memory, proves a split between the two
Atkinson-Shiffrin multi-store model
All information that comes in is stored for a brief moment in sensory memory,
information is then passed to short-term memory after we pay attention to it, that
information can be maintained through rehearsal or passed to long-term memory
Memory stores: passive storage units, hold information
Memory moves to and from these stores using control processes
(attention, maintenance, according, retrieval)
Sensory Memory
A limited capacity store that holds basic sensory information for a very limited
amount of time
We have a different store for each of our senses
Attention helps pass items in sensory store on to short-term memory
By paying attention we move sensory memory to short-term memory for
Unprocessed sensory information (snapchat/photograph of sensory input)
Sperling’s Sensory Store Investigation
How much can we encode during a single, brief instance?
When asked to remember as many letters as they can (whole report),
people can only remember 3-4 items
Duration is so short that people forget the items before they can report
them all?
The real limiting factor isn't how many, but is duration. The
duration of iconic memory is so short that b the time we get
around to saying 3-4 items, we had forgotten the rest. The verbal
report is slowing us down and we forget in that time
Partial-report procedure
Participants saw the whole display but only had to report part of it,
depending on how high of a tone was displayed after. Very
important that the onset of the tone occurred after the offset of the
When cued to report one row only, people could remember
approximately 3-4 items in that row. But this time, because they
were only reporting part of the display, 3 items is actually 75% of
the whole thing of what they were supposed to report
Sperling said if they reported 3-4 items of one row, they must
remember 3-4 items of all rows
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