Short-Term Memory

short-term memory

Today we are going to explore and understand the cognitive functions and processes involved in memory. Specifically looking at short-term memory and how that evolved into working memory. But first going back to basics…

WHAT IS MEMORY?

Our ability to remember…

  • Our name
  • Our last holiday
  • How to ride a bike
  • The capital of Iceland
SOME USEFUL TERMINOLOGY:
  • Memory: Active system that receives, stores, organizes, alters, and recovers (retrieves) information Encoding: Converting information into a useable form
  • Storage: The retention of encoded information over time
  • Retrieval: Process of getting information out of  memory (storage).
HIERARCHY OF MEMORY TERMS

Short-Term Memory

MAIN MEMORY DISTINCTION

Explicit or also known as declarative memory involves conscious recollection:

  • Can be declared (i.e. Described) 
    • “I remember when I went to Italy….” = Episodic Memory
    • “Reykjavic is the capital of Iceland” = Semantic Memory

Implicit or non-declarative memory can be recalled unconsciously and usually cannot be described, for example:

  • How to ride a bike = Procedural Memory
  • Observed indirectly in behaviour:
    • E.g.  Quicker to recognise a cow the second time it is presented = Priming
STAGES OF MEMORY

Memory is further distinguished with regards to when processing occurs:

  1. Sensory register
  2. Short-term memory (STM)
  3. Long-term memory (LTM)

Short-term memory

STAGE MODEL OF MEMORY

(Atkinson & Shiffrin, 1968)

  • Sensory register: very brief, modality specific (audio, visual, tactile, etc)
  • Short-term memory: brief, limited capacity
  • Long-term memory: essentially unlimited capacity, indefinite time periods.
Short-term memorySECOND STAGE OF MEMORY

Sensory memory is the immediate recording of sensory information in the memory system and can be categorised into two segments; Iconic and Echoic sensory memory:

  1. Iconic sensory memory: a momentary memory of visual stimuli lasting no more than a few tenths of a second
  2. Echoic sensory memory: a momentary memory of auditory stimuli
WORKING MEMORY
  • Atkinson & Shiffrin (1968): STM seen as a temporary storage space before LTM
  • Baddeley & Hitch (1974):
    • Evidence of decay, rehearsal, and retrieval from STM suggests that it is more active than previously thought
    • It is a status of memory not just a storage place i.e. we are still thinking about the content of STM
    • Renamed STM into Working Memory
HOW WORKING MEMORY DIFFERS FROM STAGE THEORY

Working Memory is now viewed as highly active and the sensory registers (echoic/iconic) are viewed as less important. Sensory data is temporarily available in these registers but quickly moves into are visuo-spatial sketchpad and phonological loop where they can be maintained.

EVIDENCE FOR WORKING MEMORY
  • Brain damage, for example dysexecutive syndrome induces a loss of planning, organisation ability due to damage/legions of the frontal lobes.
  • Targeted suppression of components of working memory leads to selective impairment, for example:
    • Counting backwards suppresses phonological loop
    • Tracing a path with hand suppresses vs sketchpad

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