How Does Memory Work

How Memory Works

There are two main models which attempt to explain how memory works. One is The multi-store memory model by Richard Atkinson and Richard Shiffrin which was devised in 1968. The second is The working memory model which was proposed by Baddeley & Hitch in 1974. Both propose two different ways the mind deals with memory formation and thus recall. Understanding this can help you under

The Multi-Store Memory Model

The multi-store memory model proposes 3 main components to memory which are:

how does memory work
The Multi-Store Memory Model (Atkinson & Shiffrin)

 


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Sensory Memory

What is sensory memory?

Sensory memory is one component which is proposed as being part of the multi-store memory model explanation for how memory works. Sensory memory is seen as being composed of several stores which include the eyes, ears, nose, fingers, tongue (sight, hearing, smell, touch and taste sensors).

These sensory stores are constantly receiving information from environmental stimuli however they are given no “attention” which results in the information remaining in the sensory stores for very brief periods of time. If a person gives these sensory stores “focused attention” then the information is transferred to the short-term memory store. According to the multi-store memory explanation for memory formation, “attention” is the first step in the formation of memory.

sensory memory

Key studies into sensory memory

Sperling (1960): The Sensory Store

Evidence in support of the sensory memory stores existence and limited duration was collected by Sperling in 1960. Participants were shown a grid of digits and letters in an illustration for only 50 milliseconds. They were then asked to either write down all 12 items or told they would hear a tone straight after exposure and they should write down only that row. When participants were asked to recall the whole thing their memory recall proved to be poorer with only 5 items recalled (42%). When asked to recall one row only their recall was 75% (3 items out of 4). This proves that information decayed quickly in the sensory memory store.


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The aim of this website is to provide in depth information on key psychological and social studies for people to use. Citation advice is given on each study accordingly.