Memory, Thinking, and Intelligence
Memory is the process in our brain that the results of learning are stored for future recall. There are three types of memory, sensory memory, short term memory, and long term memory. The human memory processing system is comprised of an input or encoding stage, a storage process, and a retrieval process, the human memory also tends to forget quite a bit of information. Psychologists have many general principles to help us improve our memory and learning how the memory works will enable us to develop new ways to increase memory recall. One of the most significant models of memory was the Shiffrin model, also known as the Modal Model, which was the work of Richard Atkinson and Richard Shiffrin in 1968 (Modal Model, n.d.).
The study of the human memory process goes back to the beginning if psychology itself. The first to study memory was Herrmann Ebbinghaus who began studying memory in the late 1800s (Davis & Palladino, 2010). Then Atkinson and Shiffrin came up with a new model in 1968 that depicted two types of memory, short term memory and long term memory, and then finally added a third which was actually the first type of memory, sensory memory (Modal Model, n.d.).
The memory processing system much like that of a computer, begins with the encoding or input stage which accepts the information, codes the information then is changed into neural version and then it can either be processed more or stored until needed. The next stage in the memory system is storage, depending on how the information was coded determines if it goes to short term storage or long term storage were it is filed away with other memories. Then finally when the information is needed it is retrieved by sending specific cues for that memory to surface (Davis & Palladino, 2010).
The sensory memory is the first step in the memory process, this is the first storage and it is used for sensory memories like sight, sound, and taste. Because so much information is introduced constantly we cannot retain it all and because the sensory memory is constantly being bombarded with new stimuli, the sensory memory is very short. What isn’t sorted and sent to either short term or long term memory is only held briefly and then it decays and is replaced with new incoming stimuli. An example of sensory memory would be when you can still hear someone asking you a question even though you were not listening when they ask the question. There is a separate sensory memory system for each of the human senses and the echoic memory (hearing) seems to be the longest (Davis & Palladino, 2010).
Next is the short term memory which is like a conveyor belt at the postal service. Any information that was coded in sensory memory to be kept comes to the short term memory for processing and sorting before it can be sent to long term memory. Also this is where the planning, setting goals, and retrieval strategies are worked out. The memories that stay in short term memory have to practices or repeated often in order to stay there otherwise they decay or get lost, but some of the lost memories actually get transferred to long term memory. For example, telephone numbers that you memorize are in your short term memory and if you use them often you remember them; however sometimes you don’t call someone for a long time and when you go to call them you think you have forgotten the number but after thinking a minute or two it comes to you, the number was hiding in long term memory. When you were trying to remember the number something you thought of triggered a cue and the number was retrieved from long term parking (Davis & Palladino, 2010).
The second stage of short term memory is the working memory which is where the short term memory and the long term memory work together. An example of this would be if you are reading a book and there are big words in it and your short term memory holds the sentence you were reading in your head while the long term...
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Davis, S.F., & Palladino, J.J. (2010), Psychology (6th Ed.) Chapter 7, Pgs. 259- 293. Upper
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Modal Model of Memory by Atkinson & Shiffrin, (n.d.). Retrieved December 1, 2011 from
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