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Chapter 3

PSYC 3265 Chapter Notes - Chapter 3: Memory Span, Auditory Masking, Free Recall

Course Code
PSYC 3265
Shayna Rosenbaum

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Chapter 3 Short-Term Memory
John Jacobs digit span maximum number of sequentially presented digits that can reliably be recalled
in the correct order; still included in the most widely used intelligence test, the Wechsler Adult
Intelligence Scale WA)S. The basic version span doesn’t correlate very highly with general intelligence
but a somewhat more complex version, working memory span, does an excellent job of predicting a wide
range of cognitive skills, including performance on the reasoning tasks often used to assess intelligence.
STM referred to performance on a particular type of task, one involving the simple retention of
small amount of information, tested either immediately or after a short delay. The memory system
or systems responsible for STM form part of the working memory system.
WM the term we will use for a system that not only temporarily stores information but also
manipulates it so as to allow people to perform such complex activities as reasoning, learning, and
comprehension; simultaneous storage and processing is required. The terms working memory is
based on a theoretical assumption, namely that tasks such as reasoning and learning depend on a
system that is capable of temporarily holding and manipulating information. Some approaches are
influenced strongly by the study of attention, some on studies of individual differences in
performance on complex tasks, and others driven by neurophysiological considerations. BUT All
assume that WM provides a temporary workspace that’s necessary for performing complex
cognitive activities.
Memory Span measures 2 things: 1) remembering what the items are; and 2) remembering the order
in which they were presented. presentation of items in an unfamiliar language would hinder the
performance. Would be a little more challenging with words if they were changing on each trial, but still
better than if they were in an unfamiliar language.
George Miller suggested that memory capacity is limited not by the number of items to be recalled, but
by the number of chunks. Chunking the process of combining a number of items into a single chunk
typically on the basis of LTM. important point, suggesting that LTM can influence STM. Pauses in other
locations can also be helpful, but grouping in 3s seems to be best.
Chunking is taking advantage of cues from prosody, the natural rhythms that occur in speech and
that make its meaning clearer by separating into coherent phrases the continuous sequence of
sounds that make up the normal speech stream.
R.Conrad noticed that despite being presented visually, errors were likely to be similar in sound
to the item they replaced, hence P was more likely to be misremembered as V than the more
visually similar R. STM relies on acoustic code, which fades rapidly resulting in forgetting.
Models of Verbal Short-Term Memory
Phonological loop part of multicomponent memory model, responsible for the temporary storage of
speech-like information; two subcomponents: a short-term store and an articulatory rehearsal process.
The store is assumed to be limited in capacity, with items registered as memory traces, which decay
within a few seconds. However, the traces can be refreshed by subvocal rehearsal, saying the items to
yourself, which depends on a vocal or subvocal articulatory process. WHY 6/7 items? You can say them
all in less time than it takes for the first digit to fade away. As the number of items increases, total time to
rehearse them all will be greater, and hence the chance of items fading before the are refreshed will
increase, hence setting a limit to memory span.
The phonological similarity effect a tendency for immediate serial recall of verbal material to
be reduced, when the items are similar in sound. (Ex: mad, can, man, mat, cap more difficult than
big, wide, large, high, tall). The effect disappears if the lists are increased in length and participants
are allowed several learning trials. under these circumstances, similarity in meaning becomes
much more important. )t doesn’t mean that phonological coding is limited to STM, as without
phonological LTM we could never learn to pronounce new words. )t’s however the case that LTM
typically gains more from relying on meaning than on sound.
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o Assumed to occur at retrieval, when information is read our form the STM trace; similar
items have fewer distinguishing features, and hence are likely to be confused.
o Auditory speech is assumed to feed directly into the phonological store. Visually presented
items can also feed into the store if they are namable, such as digits, letters, or nameable
objects, through a process of vocal or subvocal articulation, whereby you say the items to
yourself. can be blocked by articulatory suppression a technique for disrupting
verbal rehearsal by requiring participants to continuously repeat a spoken item. Saying
the for ex. – prevents you from refreshing the memory trace by subvocally pronouncing
the remembered material. It also prevents you from subvocally naming visually presented
items, which prevents them from being registered in the phonological store. So it doesn’t
matter whether items are phonologically similar or not, when they are presented visually
and accompanied by articulatory suppression. Both similar and dissimilar items will be
retained, but at a lower and equivalent level. even when suppressing, people can
remember 4-5 visually presented digits although the phonological loop typically plays
an important role in digit span, it’s not the only basis of span.
o With auditory presentation, the words gain direct access to the phonological store despite
articulatory suppression, and hence a similarity effect still occurs.
The word length effect a tendency for verbal memory span to decrease when longer words are
used; performance drops from around 90% for 5 monosyllables to about 50% for lists of five-
syllable words; people can remember about as many words as they can say in  seconds
o Rehearsal takes place in real time, as does trace decay, with the result that longer words,
taking longer to say, allow more decay to occur forgetting during subvocal rehearsal.
o Cowan et al., - word length also caused forgetting during the recall phase due to the fact
that longer words take longer to recall, allowing more forgetting to occur. Word length
effect occur during both rehearsal and recall. reflects time-based rehearsal process
o If rehearsal if prevented (e.g. articulatory suppression), the word length effect is lost.
o The effect is extremely robust, but its interpretation remains controversial: 1) longer
words are more complex and this leads to more interference; 2) long words having more
components to be remembered are more vulnerable to fragmentation and forgetting
abandoned in the favor of the SIMPLE model.
Irrelevant sound effect a tendency for verbal STM to be disrupted by concurrent fluctuating
sound, including both speech and music. STM for sequences of visually presented digits was
impaired when participants were required to ignore speech even through it was in an unfamiliar
foreign language, and hence devoid of meaning. BUT digit recall was not impaired when irrelevant
foreign speech was replaced by unpatterned noise. irrelevant speech effect might be seen as the
memory equivalent to the masking of auditory speech perception by irrelevant sound. However,
white noise disrupts perception, but doesn’t impair recall, whereas irrelevant speech does. )n
contrast to auditory masking, STM performance is not influenced by the intensity of the irrelevant
sound. degree of disruption of STM is unrelated to the phonological similarity b/w the irrelevan
sound and the items remembered. Ex: music interfered with digit recall, finding that vocal
music was more disruptive than instrumental. even pure tones will disrupt performance,
provided they fluctuate in pitch Changing State Hypothesis retention of serial order, whether
in verbal or visual memory, can be disrupted by irrelevant stimuli providing that these fluctuate
over time. alternative to phonological loop hypothesis Object-Oriented Episodic Record (O-
OER) strong evidence that the irrelevant sound effect is based on disruption of memory for serial
The Problem of serial order: the phonological loop model had two major shortcomings: 1) no
adequate explanation of how serial order is stored; 2) no clear specification of the crucial
processes involved in retrieval from the phonological store. A number of models based on the
phonological loop have been developed, handling the question of serial order in somewhat
different ways. The various models tend to agree in assuming both a phonological store and a
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