-working memory is an active processing system that keeps different types of information
available for other activities at present (like problem solving, reasoning and comprehension)
-there are 3 components of working memory:
1. central executive: interactions between the subsystems and long term memory. It encodes
information from the sensory systems and then filters important information that needs to be
stored in long term memory. Then, as needed, it retrieves information from long term memory. It
relies on the temporary hold of auditory and visual information.
2. phonological loop: encodes auditory information and is active whenever you read, speak or repeat
words to yourself to remember them. Words are processed in working memory by how they
sound rather than what they mean
3. visuospatial sketchpad: processes visual information (like an object’s features and where they are
*Patients with brain damage might have difficulty remembering spatial layouts but be okay
remembering words, or the opposite. This means that STM consists of more than simply an all
inclusive buffer *
Long Term Memory
-LTM is the relatively permanent storage of information
-human LTM is nearly limitless
-LTM is different from STM in 2 ways: duration and capacity.
-psychologists researched whether LTM and STM are 2 separate systems, The research was at an
individual level of analysis where patients had to recall long lists of words. The ability for a patient to
recall words on the list depended on order of presentation: items presented early or late in the list are
remembered better than those in the middle. This is called the serial position effect. The serial position
effect involves the primacy effect (in a list, the better memory for items is presented first) and the
recency effect (in a list the better memory is for words presented late in the list)
-to explain the serial position effect, we rely on the distinction between the STM and LTM. As people
study the long list, they rehearse the earliest items the most and that information is transferred into the
LTM. The last few items, however, are in the STM. This means that primacy effects are due to LTM and
recency effects are due to the STM.
-There is a controversy about the recency effect in the STM because for example, it’s easier to remember
your most recent class better than the classes you had last week, even though you are not holding the
material in the STM. This means that the recency effect on its own does not prove that STM and LTM
are different types of memory storage.
-To show a better distinction between LTM and STM, we’ll look at the biological level of analysis and
the case study of HM. HM was able to transfer new information from STM into LTM. LTM can be
dissociated from STM, but the two memory systems are highly interdependent. For ex, to chunk
information in STM, people need to form meaningful connections based on stored info in the LTM.
What gets into LTM? there has to be a type of filtering system or a series of rules that constrains what gets
into our LTM. Information gets into the LTM by rehearsing (over-learning; rehearsing the material many
times and going over it leads to improved memory). Studying for short periods of time is called massed
practise (cramming) and is proved to be inefficient compared to studying over long periods of time
(distributed practise). Information that helps us adapt to the environment is transferable from STM to
LTM. We receive tons of sensory information every day, but we want to store information that is useful.
By storing useful information, organisms can benefit from experience. Evolutionary theory helps explain
how we decide in advance what information will be useful. Memory allows us to use information in a
way that assist in reproduction and survival. (ie recognizing a predator, remembering which objects are
readings for midterm 2