Memory plays a crucial role in our lives. As you know, there are many deadlines, dates,and names to remember. How do we remember them all? Where does the informationgo? Memory also plays a very important part in learning. Intelligence is fundamentallybased on memory. Learning means a change that causes a system to act differently on thebasis of what is contained within it. Our memories are constantly changing. Tounderstand how we learn, it is necessary to learn how we store information.
How the memory works is not exactly understood. Before I discuss the differenttheorists and their ideas on how our memory system works, I will explain the basic areasof our memory. Memory is the retention of information and how a person retrievesinformation. Memory is essential for intelligent behavior. Without memory, learningMemories are generally formed by chemical changes in the nerve cells and thepathways in the brain that are involved with the memory process. The parts of the brainthat are concerned with memory are the hippocampus, cortex, and thalamus.
Everytimesomeone learns something new, new pathways are created.(Howe, 1983)There is two types of memory which are motor-skill memory and factual memory. Motor-skill memory obviously refers to remembering how to walk , run, etc. Factualmemory refers to remembering telephone numbers, names, different places, etc.
There is three levels of memory in which input travels; sensory memory, short-termmemory, and long-term memory. The sensory memory absorbs things going on aroundyou. Sensory memory refers to the input that is taken in through a human’s five senses(eyes, ears, nose, taste, and touch). Information is kept here for a brief second. If theinformation gets attention, it gets passed on to the short-term memory. If the informationdoes not get attention, then the information is ignored.(Howe, 1983)The short-term memory is where information gets passed to after the sensory memory. The short-term memory is also refereed to as the working memory. This is whereinformation is temporarily stored. The STM has a limited capacity and a limited duration. The STM can basically hold seven items at a time and no longer then thirty seconds. Theonly way time is extended is through repetition. As you add new items the earlier onesdrop off. Due to the limited capacity of the STM, the amount of information received bythe long-term memory is limited. The information used by the short-term memory will besent to the long-term memory.(Rosenfield, 1988)To help students remember more then seven items, there is a method called chunking. This method groups items together in groups in order for a student to recall moreinformation. For example, if there is 14 letters (such as on the handout), the letters can becombined in groups of seven. (refer to handout) The long-term memory is where information is permanently stored by repetition orlinks to already existing information. Information can be stored here for a few months orfor the rest of your life. Research has shown that information exists longer if it isassociated with already existing information.(Rosenfield, 1988)The first major break in the study of memorization was made by HermannEbbinghaus(1850-1909). Until this time, philosophers believed that memorizing processescould not be measured or experimented on. Through experimentation on himself, heconcluded that there is a process to memory and there is a forgetting curve. His threetheories of forgetting were; the earlier the images are more and more overlaid, so tospeak, and covered by the later ones, the persisting images suffer changes which more andmore affect their nature, and crumbling into parts and the loss of separate componentsinstead of general obscuration. (Baddeley, 1976, pg. 4)Ebbinghaus also researched the capacity of human memory. He used a method inwhich he created called the saving method. This is a technique which he estimated theamount of material retained by measuring the difficulty of relearning it. (Baddeley, 1976,Ebbinghaus created many theories and experiments that will be used by other theoristsin the future. Ebbinghaus moved on to different subject areas and never concluded atheory from his experiments on memory.(Baine,1986)Baretlett used some of Ebbinghaus’ theories and concluded that when we attempt tolearn something, we base it on what we already know from our past experiences.
There are two theorist that focus on forgetting, which puts limits on memory. Freud’stheory is based on repression. If the information that is coming in has painful associations,a person well unconsciously block it.(Baddeley, 1976, pg.51)The second theory came from the German School of Gestlt Psychology. The study ofmemory was influenced by the discovery of the organization of memory, and autonomouschange in memory trace.(Baddeley, 1976, pg55) Using the study of shapes, the predictionwas made that memory trace would get stronger as the shape was study longer.
These are only a few theorists. There are so many theorists who have helped attributeto the mystery of memory. One of the most influential theories is called the Levels ofProcessing proposed by. This theory does not believe that there are separate stores(STMand LTM) as most of the other theorists believe. The Levels of Processing Theory was first introduced by Self-ridge and Neisser in1960, and again by Sutherland in 1968. The theory explains how stimuli goes throughdifferent stages. Morton (1970) and Baddeley and Patterson (1971) also suggested thesame theory. Each level of processing is deeper as more processing is required. There isrelation between the depth of processing and the duration of processing.(Baddeley, pg.76,Instead, Craik and Lockhart proposed that input traveled to different levels of perception, but they believe there is a working or short-term memory involved. Theworking memory can operate at any of the processing levels.(Baddeley, 1976, pg. 166)Cermak share similar views: “Information could be conceived of as passing through…
stages of encoding… at the same time that acoustic properties of a word are becomingwell-established, a weak semantic encoding can be starting. The word passes throughvarious stages of encoding, being categorized more and more specifically.” (Cermak,Craik and Lockhart’s views; “The memory trace can be understood as a by-product ofperceptual analysis and…trace persistence is a positive function of the depth to which thestimulus has been analyzed.” (Craik and Lockhart, 1972, p. 671)The theory of Levels of Processing, according to Craik and Lockhart, consisted ofshallow and deep processing. They proposed that “different levels of processing arenecessary for the perceptual analyses that transform information about the various items’attributes into forms stored as memory traces.” (Howe, pg28) Deep processing refers tothe meaning of the stimulus being processed.
The working memory in this theory is responsible for maintaining and prolongingperceptual experience. The information then proceeds to what is call type 1. This is whenattention is diverted and information is lost. This area does not consist of permanentmemory. Type 2 processing is a deeper processing and has a higher memoryCraik and Lockhart’s theory has been criticized by other theorists. Kolers and Ostry(1974) believe that physical stimulation information is stored in memory for a period oftime, unlike Craik and Lockhart.(Baine, 1986, pg.12)Learning is based on information and experiences, and is also based on the functioningof the brain and the nervous system. Due to the lack of knowledge about the brain or thenervous system, it is difficult to know how people learn and how their memory functions.
There are a few theories in which most are familiar with. S-R learning with positivereinforcement discovered by Pavlov; or Kohler’s cognitive learning theory throughMemory is essential to learning. The question where memory takes place and how it isstored cannot be answered yet. Practice and repetition seems to be the way most newinformation is learned. Cramming does not result in long-term retention.
BibliographyBaddeley, Alan D. 1976. The Psychology of Memory . Basic Books, Inc. New YorkBaine, David. 1986. Memory and Instruction. Educational Technology Publications,Cermak,L.S. 1975. Improving Your Memory. Norton New YorkHowe, Michael J.A. 1983. Introduction To The Psychology Of Memory. UniversityRosenfield, Israel. 1988. The Invention of Memory. Basic Books, Inc. New YorkShort-Term andLori FrendEDU500Bibliography:
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