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PSYB57H3 (369)
George Cree (102)
Chapter 6

chapter 6

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University of Toronto Scarborough
George Cree

Chapter 6 Working Memory 1. Using Working Memory Working memory short term mental storage and manipulation operations o Keeps certain bits of information accessible in mind, performs cognitive operations on them, mulling them over, manipulating or transforming them o Working memory can be thought o as involving a mental blackboard that is, as a workspace that provides a temporary holding store so that relevant information is highly accessible and available for inspection and computation o When cognitive tasks are accomplished, the information can be easily erased, and the process can begin again with other information 1.1. A Computer Metaphor The information stored in the hard disk is like long-term memory RAM corresponds to working memory o In a computer, RAM is cleared and reset when the task executed by the program is finished, or when the program is closed The computer metaphor suggests 2 characteristics of working memory : o 1) RAM is completely flexible with regard to content. That is, there is no fixed mapping between the location of a part of RAM and the program that uses it; any program can accessany part of RAM o 2) The more RAM a computer has, the more complex and sophisticated the programs that can be run on it, and the more programs that be running simultaneously Working memory involves a content-free buffer, and cognitive abilities are dependent on the size of the buffer 1.2. Implication of the Nature of Working Memory People vary widely in working memory capacity (working memory span) the amount of information that can be held accessible, and that these differences predict general intelligence, verbal SAT scores and even the speed with which a skill such as computer programming is acquired 2. From Primary Memory to Working Memory: A Brief History Ideas regarding the nature and function of short-tem storage have evolved considerably during the last hundred years www.notesolution.com2.1. William James: Primary Memory , Secondary Memory, and Consciousness The first discussion of a distinction between short-term and long-term storage systems was put forth by pioneering American psychologist William James in the late 19 century James called these 2 forms of memory primary memory and secondary memory , using these terms to indicate the degree of the relationship of the stored information to consciousness Primary memory the initial repository in which information can be stored and made available to conscious inspection, attention, and introspection o In this way, such information would be continually accessible Secondary memory a long-term storage system, from which information cannot be retrieved without initiating an active cognitive process 2.2. Early Studies: The Characteristics of Short- Term Memory George Miller, an early and influential cognitive theorist provided detailed evidence that the capacity for short-term information storage is limited o Miller suggested that people can keep only about 7 items active in short- term storage, and that this limitation influences performance on a wide range of mental tasks o No matter how long the series is, correct recall of digits appears to plateau at about 7 times (a little higher or lower for some people) o Although there is a limitation on the number of items that can be simultaneously held in short-term storage the definition of an item is highly flexible and subject to manipulation o Chunks the grouping of single items into higher level units of organization Chunking might be governed by meaningfulness The notion of Millers chunk idea is that short-term storage, those possibly subject to certain constraints, is not rigid but amenable to strategies, such as chunking, that can expand its capacity Previous studies have suggested that the magical number might not actually be 7 +- 2, but may be much less 3 +- 1. o This revised estimate comes from a review of studies that storage capacity is much lower than seven when participants are prevented from using strategies such as chunking or rehearsal Short-term memory defined in terms of short duration and high level of accessibility 2.2.1. Brevity of Duration www.notesolution.com
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