Cognitive Psychology: Introduction to Memory


20th February 2020 blog post:

Hello everyone, I hope that your week is going well.


Today’s post will be on cognitive psychology and an introduction to memory as well as my Cognitive Psychology book goes into memory in more depth.


There are three main stages of memory as information travels through the memory in three stages.


Firstly, the information goes through an acquisition stage and this is the process of obtaining information as well as placing it into memory.

Subsequently, you have storage. This is where the information is an enduring form in the mind- also known as a memory.


Finally, when the information is needed once more the memory or information goes through retrieval. This is where we draw information to use in such a manner.


To put these stages into a practical example, let’s say that you need to buy eggs after works.

Therefore, you acquire the information about what you need to buy then you store the information throughout the day then after work you retrieve the information, so you know what you need to buy.


However, if this was true and if memory was as simple as these three stages imply then humans would never forget, and we would surely have a complete understand about how dementia and other terrible diseases affect memory.


Hence, why we use models of memory in psychology in order to describe how memory works.


Although, even these models aren’t perfect.


Below is an extract taken from my Cognitive Psychology book:


The Multi-store memory model (MSM model):

This model was made up by Atkinson and Shiffrin (1968)

It’s made up of three parts:

· The sensory memory- this is where information comes into the memory through our senses. Such as taste, touch, hearing, smell and sight. The amount of information that can be stored here (memory capacity) is unlimited, but this is probably because the information lasts here for a second.

· The short-term memory (STM)- if the information is deemed important and you pay attention to it then it goes into the STM. Here the memory capacity is limited to about 6-8 pieces of information, but the information can stay here for a few minutes.

· Long term memory (LTM)- the MSM model believes that if the information is rehearsed enough and if enough attention is paid to it then it can end up here in the LTM. Here the memory capacity is unlimited, and it'sproposed that the information can last a lifetime.


However, at each of these stages, the information is open to memory decay or displacement. Meaning that the information; in essences; is forgotten and doesn’t get remembered.


In fact, when we say that we’re forgotten information. Like: when one of our parents tells us to do someone and we ‘forget’ what’s actually more likely is that the information never got encoded in the first place. In other words, it never entered our memory.[1]


Critically thinking:

Before we move onto the studies supporting the model. Let’s think about the model itself.

One good thing about the model is that it does explain memory well in a simple and easy to follow way.


Do you agree?


On the other hand, I believe that its simplicity is its downfall because if the memorywas that simple. We would all be memory experts.


But one of its other main faults is that it’s built on the assumption that you need to rehearse/ repeat information for it to be stored in the LTM. However, how many times have we all read something once and be able to recall it. A few hours later without needing to reread or repeat it? I have and chances are we all have. Maybe not the reading example but probably something else. Like: what happens in a funny video or a conversation at work.


Working memory model:

Now that we’ve seen one way of how memory works, we’re going to look at another model that goes into memory in more depth.


The Working Memory Model (WMM) was formulated by Baddeley and Hitch (1974) and it’s made up of several sections.


Central Executive:

This first section controls the memory and it allocates information to the subsections, as well as it deals with the task. Like: mental arithmetic and problem-solving.


Then you have the three subsections of the STM.


Visuospatial Sketchpad

This stores as well as processes information in a visual or spatial form.


Phonological Loop:

This section deals with spoken and written material and it’s made up of two parts:

· Phonological/acoustic Store– this store is linked to speech and perception and it holds

information in a speech-based form for a few seconds.

· Articulatory control process- this section is used to repeat and store verbal information from the phonological store.


Episodic buffer:

The last section is the episodic buffer this connects the Visuospatial sketchpad with the phonological loop.


Following being stored in the STM information can then be stored in the LTM if it doesn’t get displaced or decay


Critically thinking:

The model has great explanatory power as it allows us to explain a range of phenomena that can’t be explained using the MSM model. For examplethe word length effect. This is a phenomenon wherethe capacity of the STM depends on the length of the word.


An example of this is trying to remember: Describe, discussing, catering, evaluating and Decomposing.


Compared to cat, dog, mat, gate and cook.


Which is easier to remember?


The list of short words should be.


However, as a result of the model’s complexity, it’s difficult to test scientifically. Especially, if you wanted to test all of the subsections in the model in the same experiment.


Saying that- let’s look at some studies that have managed to overcome that problem to some extent.


I hope that you’re found this post useful and please consider signing up for my newsletter to receive your FREE book.


Have a great week everyone!

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