Your Perfect Assignment is Just a Click Away

We Write Custom Academic Papers

100% Original, Plagiarism Free, Customized to your instructions!


How Do We Form Memories?

How Do We Form Memories?

If information in a lecture is to become part of your permanent memory, it must be processed in three sequential stages: first in sensory memory, then in working mem- ory, and finally in long-term memory. The three stages work like an assembly line to convert a flow of incoming stimuli into meaningful patterns you can store and later reconstruct. This three-stage model, originally developed by Richard Atkinson and Richard Shiffrin (1968), is now widely accepted—with some elaborations and modi- fications. Figure 5.3 shows how information flows through the three stages. (Caution: Don’t get these three stages confused with the three basic tasks of memory we covered earlier.)

Sensory memory, the most fleeting of the three stages, typically holds sights, sounds, smells, textures, and other sensory impressions for a maximum of a few seconds. Although sensory memory usually operates on an unconscious level, you can see its effects in the fading luminous trail made by a moving flashlight or a twirling Fourth- of-July sparkler. You can also hear the effects of fading sensory memories in the blend- ing of one note into another as you listen to a melody. In general, these short-lived images allow us to maintain incoming sensory information just long enough for it to be screened for importance by working memory.

Working memory, the second stage of processing, selectively takes information from the sensory registers and makes connections with items already in long-term storage. (It is this connection we mean when we say, “That rings a bell!”) Working memory holds information for up to 20 to 30 seconds (Nairne, 2003), making it a useful buf- fer for temporarily holding a name you have just heard or following directions some- one has just given you. Originally, psychologists called this stage short-term memory (STM), reflecting the notion that this was merely a short-term, passive storage bin. Research has discovered, however, there are multiple active mental processes working at lightning speed to process information in this stage—hence the newer term working memory.

Long-term memory (LTM), the final stage of processing, receives information from work- ing memory and can store it for long periods—sometimes for a lifetime. Information in

sensory memory The first of three memory stages, preserving brief sensory impressions of stimuli.

working memory The second of three memory stages, and the one most limited in capacity. It preserves recently perceived events or experiences for less than a minute without rehearsal.

long-term memory (LTM) The third of three memory stages, with the largest capacity and longest duration; LTM stores material organized according to meaning.

The Three Stages of Memory (simplified)

Memory is generally thought to be divided into three stages of processing. Every- thing that eventually goes into long-term storage must first be processed by sensory memory and working memory.

Sensory memory Long-term memory

Working memory

What an Eidetiker Sees

The combined images from the Do It Yourself! box form a number pattern.

Source: Klatzky, R. (1980). Human Memory: Structures and Processes. San Francisco: W. H. Freeman and Company. Copyright © 1975, 1980 by W. H. Freeman and Company. Used with permission.

Check Your Understanding 1. ANALYSIS: What is a major objection to the “video recorder”

model of human memory?

2. RECALL: What are the three essential tasks of memory?

3. ANALYSIS: Suppose you have just adopted a new cat. You note her unique markings so you can recognize her among other cats in the neighborhood. What would a cognitive psychologist call this process of identifying the distinctive features of your cat?

4. UNDERSTANDING THE CORE CONCEPT: Which of the following memory systems reconstructs material during retrieval?

a. computer memory b. human memory c. video recorder memory d. information recorded in a book

Answers 1. Unlike a video recorder, which makes an accurate and detailed record, memory stores an interpretation of experience. 2. Encoding, storage, and retrieval 3. Encoding 4. b

Study and Review at MyPsychLab


long-term memory includes all our knowledge about the world, from an image of your mother’s face to the lyrics to your favorite song and the year that Wilhelm Wundt estab- lished the first psychology laboratory. (Do you remember the year from Chapter 1?)

Our Core Concept captures the three stages in brief:

Core Concept 5.2 Each of the three memory stages encodes and stores memories in a different way, but they work together to transform sensory experience into a lasting record that has a pattern or meaning.

Our focus in this section will be on the unique contributions each stage makes to the final memory product (see Table 5.1). More specifically, we will look at each stage in terms of its storage capacity, its duration (how long it retains information), its struc- ture and function, and its biological basis.

The First Stage: Sensory Memory Your senses take in far more information than you can possibly use. While reading this book, they serve up all the words on the page, sounds in the room, the feel of your clothes on your skin, the temperature of the air, the slightly hungry feeling in your stomach. . . . How does the brain deal with this multitude of sensory input?

It’s the job of sensory memory to hold the barrage of incoming sensation just long enough for your brain to scan it and decide which stream of information needs atten- tion. But just how much information can sensory memory hold? Cognitive psycholo- gist George Sperling answered this question by devising one of psychology’s simplest and most clever experiments.

Order Solution Now

Our Service Charter

1. Professional & Expert Writers: Writers Hero only hires the best. Our writers are specially selected and recruited, after which they undergo further training to perfect their skills for specialization purposes. Moreover, our writers are holders of masters and Ph.D. degrees. They have impressive academic records, besides being native English speakers.

2. Top Quality Papers: Our customers are always guaranteed of papers that exceed their expectations. All our writers have +5 years of experience. This implies that all papers are written by individuals who are experts in their fields. In addition, the quality team reviews all the papers before sending them to the customers.

3. Plagiarism-Free Papers: All papers provided by Writers Hero are written from scratch. Appropriate referencing and citation of key information are followed. Plagiarism checkers are used by the Quality assurance team and our editors just to double-check that there are no instances of plagiarism.

4. Timely Delivery: Time wasted is equivalent to a failed dedication and commitment. Writers Hero is known for timely delivery of any pending customer orders. Customers are well informed of the progress of their papers to ensure they keep track of what the writer is providing before the final draft is sent for grading.

5. Affordable Prices: Our prices are fairly structured to fit in all groups. Any customer willing to place their assignments with us can do so at very affordable prices. In addition, our customers enjoy regular discounts and bonuses.

6. 24/7 Customer Support: At Writers hero, we have put in place a team of experts who answer to all customer inquiries promptly. The best part is the ever-availability of the team. Customers can make inquiries anytime.