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Chapter 5

PSYCH 2H03 Chapter Notes - Chapter 5: Echoic Memory, Iconic Memory, Sensory Memory

Course Code
Judith Shedden

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Acquisition: the process of gaining information and placing it into memory
Storage phase: you need to hold it in memory until the information is needed
Retrieval: you finally locate the information and bring it into active use
The route into memory
Theorizing in cognitive psychology was guided by a perspective known as
information processing
Complex mental events such as learning, remembering and deciding actually
involve a large number of discrete steps
Updating the modal model
oAccording to the modal model, information processing involves different
kinds of memory
oWhen information arrives it is stored briefly in sensory memory, which
holds onto the input in "raw" sensory form (an iconic memory for visual inputs and an
echoic memory for auditory inputs
oA process of selection and interpretation moves the information into short-
term memory (the place you hold information while you're working on it)
oSome of this information is moved to the long-term memory (a much
larger and permanent storage place), it contains all your memories, knowledge ,
beliefs- most of which you aren't thinking about at this moment
oWorking memory is a storage place, often described as the loading dock
just outside the long-term memory "warehouse"
oWorking memory is limited in size
oLong-term memory is vast, it has to be, because it includes all your
knowledge, specific knowledge and more general themes
oGetting information into working memory is easy, you just have to think
about some idea or content, then you are "working on" that information and so it is
now in your working memory
oGetting information out of working memory is also easy. Since this
information is what you are thinking about right now, the information is already
available to you
oHowever, getting information out of long-term memory is effortful and slow
or it can fail altogether
oThe contents of working memory is quite fragile, it contains ideas you are
thinking about right now. If you think about something else, that information will
occupy the working memory and push out the old information
oLong-term memory is less fragile, information remains in storage whether
or not you are thinking about it right now
Working memory and long-term memory: one memory or two?
oIn a study, participants had to listen to a series of words and repeat it
back immediately, as many words as they can in any order (free recall)
oPeople usually remember 12 to 15 words
oThey are more likely to remember the first few words (primary effect) and
the last few words (recency effect), the resulting pattern is a U-shaped curve
describing the relation between position within the series (serial position) and
likelihood of recall

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oAs participants try to remember the list of words, they will place the words
they have just heard in the working memory and kick out the pervious words
oThe last few words don't get bumped out because no further input arrives,
this explains the recency effect
oWhen they hear the first word, they repeat it in their head, this is referred
to as memory rehearsal (transferred to LTM). When the second word arrives they
rehearse it too and so on. So the first word is more privileged and receives a 100% of
the attention and as more words arrive they receive less attention. Words later in the
list are rehearsed fewer times as well, this explains the primary effect
A closer look at working memory
The modal model tells us that the working memory is fragile, smaller in size, easy
to enter, and easy to retrieve and dependent on current activity
Our understanding of the working memory has developed over the years
The function of working memory:
oYou use working memory when you have multiple ideas in your mind that
you want to combine or compare.
oPeople differ in the holding capacity of their working memories
Digit span
oThe holding capacity of the working memory is measured with a digit-
span task
oParticipants read a series of digits and must repeat them back
immediately, if they do so successfully they are given a longer list and so on.
This continues until the participant makes an error (7 or 8 items, 7 plus or minus
2 items)
oWhat The "items" are, are up to the individual person, it depends on how
each person groups what they hear. If they hear individual things or grouped
things. Then they will remember 7 of those groups
Operating span
oThe traditional working memory fits well with the theory of that the
working memory is like a box. Then it is sensible to ask how much "space" there
is in the box.
oHowever, the modern conception of working memory is more dynamic, so
that working memory is best thought as a status (something that is currently
activated, there's no specific place within the brain that serves as working
memory) rather than a place.
o To now measure this memory's capacity, a procedure called operation
span is used to measure working memory when it is "working"
oThere are many ways to measure operation span, with the various types
differing in what operation they use
oReading span: asked to read aloud a series of sentences, and then
asked to repeat the final words of each sentences. Then do this again with three
sentences instead of two and so on until they make an error
oThis task involves storing some materials while simultaneously working
with other materials . This juggling is exactly what working memory must do in its
functioning in day to day life
oSomeone with a higher span has a larger working memory, and so people
with a larger span should do better in tasks that require the coordination of
different pieces of information
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