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PSYA01H3 Study Guide - Final Guide: Richard Shiffrin, Occipital Lobe, Sensory Memory

Course Code
Steve Joordens
Study Guide

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PSYA01 Exam Chapter 7
Saturday, November 30, 2019 4:40 PM
Incident where man (K.C.) lost control of his motorcycle
Brain scans showed damage to the temporal lobes, both frontal lobes, and the left occipital lobe
Retained some memory for general knowledge, but had lost his episodic memory
Could recall facts about his life but not his personal experiences or feelings relating to those facts
This helped researchers prove that we have different types of memory, involving different
networks of brain areas
If an individual were to awaken one day with his or her personal memories erased, would he
or she still be the same person?
Eg. "One of my memories works well, but the other is not so hot"
Memory: a collection of several systems that store information in different forms for differing
amount of timew
The Atkinson-Shiffrin Model
Richard Atkinson and Richard Shiffrin reviewed what psychologists knew about memory at that
time and constructed the memory model
Three Memory Stores
Stores: retain information in memory without using it for any specific purpose
Think of it like a hard drive for a computer
Control processes: shift information from one memory store to another
Sensory memory
Short-term memory (STM)
Long-term memory (LTM)
Attention (Sensory Memory)
Information enters the sensory memory store through all of the senses and the control process
called attention
Attention: selects which information will be passed on to STM
Selects some elements of our environment that will receive further processing and
add to our experience and understanding of the world
Encoding (Short-Term Memory)
We narrow the information we receive in STM further through encoding
Encoding: the process of storing information in the LTM system
We retain only some information and lose the rest
Retrieval (Long-Term Memory)
Retrieval: brings information from LTM back into STM
Happens becomes when you become aware of existing memories (eg. Movie you saw)
Sometimes we are unable to retrieve information when we want to
Sensory Memory
Sensory memory: a memory store that accurately holds perceptual information for a very brief
amount of time -> how brief depends on which sensory system we talk about
Types of Sensory Memory
Iconic memory: the visual form of sensory memory, held for about one-half to one

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Echoic memory: the auditory form of sensory memory, held for about 5-10 seconds
i. Allows you to repeat back the words you just heard, even though you may be thinking
about something else
George Sperling's Experiment
Flashed a grid of letters on a screen for a fraction of a second and asked participants to
report what they saw
Whole report condition
Participants attempted to recall as many letters as possible
Participants were able to report 3-4 letters, usually on the same line
Sperling thought it had a larger capacity but memory faded faster than participants could
report them
Partial report condition
Display of letters was followed by a tone that was randomly chosen to be low,
medium or high -> corresponded with bottom, middle, top lines of letters
Still reported 3-4 letters but from the row indicated by the tone
How can we have continuous perceptions?
Attention -> allows us to move a small amount of the information from our sensory memory
into STM for further processing
Called spotlight of attention
Change Blindness
Change blindness: shows relationship between sensory memory and attention
In change blindness experiment, participants view two nearly identical versions of a photograph ->
one difference between them
Photo #1 -> blank screen -> photo #2 -> blank screen
Item that differs is not the focus of attention, so people fail to notice the change
Appearance of blank screen in between occupies sensory memory, making memory
previous photograph less accessible
If participant is paying attention to the changing element, the spotlight of attention is
focused on that part of the image
Short-Term Memory and the Magical Number 7
Short-term memory (STM): memory stored with limited capacity and duration (approximately 30
Capacity of STM was called The Magical Number Seven, Plus or Minus Two
Miller found that participants were able to remember seven units of information, give or take a
STM can rehearse only seven units of information at once before forgetting something
What is a "unit of information"?
Not straightforward
Whenever possible, we expand our memory capacity with chunking
Chunking: organizing smaller units of information into larger, more meaningful units
Larger units are called chunks

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Participants can apply patterns that fit into their background knowledge in list 2
Chunking reduces 15 bits of information into 5 chunks
The ability to chunk material varies from situation to situation
Above experiment suggests that experience or expertise plays a role in our ability to chunk
large amounts of information so that it fits into our STM
Studies of chess experts has proven this
Chess masters perceive the pieces on a board as a single unit
Therefore, they are able to remember the positions of significantly more chess pieces than
novices can
BUT when the chess pieces are randomly placed on the board, the experts' memory
advantage disappears
Chunking -> allows chess masters to envision what the board will look like after future moves
Long-Term Memory
Only a small amount of information from STM is encoded or transformed into a more permanent
representation that we can intentionally access later on
Encoding -> allows information to enter the final memory store in the Atkinson-Shiffrin
Long-term memory (LTM): holds information for extended periods of time, if not permanently
Unlike short-term memory, has no capacity limitations (that we are aware of)
All of information that undergoes encoding will be entered into LTM
After Entering LTM
Once entered into LTM, the information needs to be organized
Researchers have identified at least two ways in which this organization occurs:
Based on the semantic categories that the items belong to
i. Eg. Mental representation of cat would be connected to and stored near the mental
representation of other animals such as dog and mouse
Based on the sounds of the word and how the words looks
i. Explain part of the tip-of-the-tongue (TOT) phenomenon: when you are able to
retrieve similar sounding words or words that start with the same letter but can't
quite retrieve the word you actually want
ii. What is happening in these situations is that nearby items or nodes in your neural
network are activated
The likelihood that a given piece of information will undergo retrieval is influenced by a number of
different factors including the quality of the original encoding and the strategies used to retrieve
the information
The Atkinson-Shiffrin Model provides a good introduction to the different stages of memory
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