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Chapter 6. Memory Introductory Psychology Dr. Greg Cook. Memory Model Atkinson & Shiffrin (1968). See Textbook, p. 199. Rehearsal. Retrieve. SM. STM. LTM. Input. Transfer Encode. Transfer Encode. Lost. Lost. Lost?. “Computer” as a metaphor

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chapter 6

Chapter 6


Introductory Psychology

Dr. Greg Cook

memory model atkinson shiffrin 1968

Memory ModelAtkinson & Shiffrin (1968)

See Textbook, p. 199.














“Computer” as a metaphor

for memory and information processing.

sensory memory what a flash
Sensory Memory: What a Flash!
  • An “echo” of the input reverberates in our sensory systems for a very brief time.
  • Vision = “Iconic Memory” = fraction of a second.
  • Hearing = “Echoic Memory” = up to 2 seconds.
  • Capacity is LARGE; Duration is VERY BRIEF
  • We sense much more than we can possibly process (funnel effect)
  • Examples: candle “tail”, film images, “feel your feet”
  • Most of our sensory information is LOST from SM; not encoded to STM
short term memory paying attention
Short-Term Memory: Paying Attention!
  • Current Processing: STM holds the information you are consciously processing (paying attention to) right now.
  • Also called “Working Memory”.
  • Capacity: Digit Span Test
  • Magic number: 7 ± 2 pieces of information (“chunks”).
  • Duration: 0 – 18 secs, maybe 30 secs.
  • Rehearsal: refreshes information, increases likelihood of transfer to LTM
    • Maintenance rehearsal (rote)
    • Elaborative rehearsal (personalize, connect to LTM)
long term memory memory for life
Long-Term Memory: Memory for life!
  • Storehouse of facts, events, emotions, images . . .
  • Fast & Easy vs. Effortful
  • Example: “What is your middle name?”
  • Duration: For life, theoretically. Decay?
  • Capacity: Unlimited, theoretically.
forgetting memory failures
Forgetting: Memory failures
  • Decay: do our memories “fade” with time?
  • Encoding failures (didn’t tag it into memory)
  • Retrieval failures (can’t find it or dig it out)

Also interference, distortions, consolidation problems, other phenomenon

recognition versus recall
Recognition versus Recall
  • Recognition: “I know that face!”
  • Recall: “What is this person’s name?”
serial position effect losing the middle
Serial Position Effect: Losing the Middle

If you study a list of words/concepts, then immediately try to recall them, you get “Primacy” and “Recency” effects.

With delayed recall, you get only the “Primacy” effect.

Primacy Effect: early items are transferred to LTM (fresh task)

Recency Effect: items studied w/in last seconds are still in STM, if immed test

Intermediate items were not encoded strongly into LTM, also not now in STM

Image copied from

context effects in memory
Context Effects in Memory
  • Godden & Baddeley (1975) studied people in a diving club. Textbook, p. 205.
  • Learned list of words 10 ft underwater vs. on land
  • Tested 10 ft underwater vs. on land
  • Memory scores were 47% higher when testing context matched learning context. Place cues.
  • Where do you study? Where do you take tests?
other memory phenomena
Other Memory Phenomena
  • Infantile amnesia
  • Flashbulb memories: dramatic events
  • Repressed memories: traumatic events
  • Motivated forgetting: protecting yourself

suppression vs. repression

ebbinghaus famous forgetting curve
Ebbinghaus’ Famous Forgetting Curve

Images from

Hermann Ebbinghaus (1850-1909) conducted the first systematic studies of human memory. Using himself as a subject, he learned nonsense syllables, then tested his memory after delays up to 31 days.

Most forgetting occurs rapidly, then what “sticks” tends to stick long term.

LEJ, XIZ, LUK, ZOH, . . .

How much do you remember from your high school courses? College?

Try this link:

improving your memory
Improving Your Memory
  • Organization: create meaningful clusters
  • Overlearning: take it over the top
  • Spaced practice: better than massed practice
  • Recitation: practice retrieving information

(use recall; go beyond recognition)