Memory Model Theories Compared Psychology Essay

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The 1st of the two Memory models that can be comparing is Atkinson and Shiffrin's Multistore Model, which simply states that Memory is structured into 3 main parts, The Sensory Store is where we perceive the information from the outside world, such as sight and sound, the information from the sensory store then makes its way into the Short Term Memory (STM), from here for a memory to be committed to the Long Term Memory (LTM) it has to be rehearsed otherwise it will simply decay, the 2nd Memory Model that will be compared is Craik and Lockharts theory, Levels of Processing, this basically refutes the simplicity of The Multistore Model, where the Multistore model states that for a memory to be commited from STM to the LTM the memory needs constant Rehearsal, Craik and Lockhart disagree and suggest that the process by which a memory is committed to the LTM depends upon the nature of the memory in regards to shallow and deep processing.

Atkinson and Shiffrin's Multistore Model of Memory, looks at how the brain sorts information received by Iconic and Echoic Sensory stores, and whether it commits this information into memory stored in either the Short Term Memory (STM) or the Long Term Memory (LTM), the Multistore Model states that when the brain receives information from either the Iconic (Sight) or Echoic (Sound) Sensory Stores the information can be held for between 0.3 and 1 second (Sperling 1960), not all data from the sensory stores is accessed and sent to the STM, The Short Term Memory Store is the part of the brain where complex cognitive functions are undertaken, such as reasoning, learning and comprehension, The STM has 2 areas where it withdraws information from, the Sensory Store for Information that has been recently perceived, and the LTM for Information that has already been committed to memory and has been recalled to the STM for use, The capacity of the Short Term Memory is according to Miller (1956) around 7 chunks of information (give or take 2), now these chunks of information refer to not only singular letters words or numbers, but a chunk can also be a series of numbers, a phrase or sentence, the best way to show this would be a Phone Number, a phone number consists of 11 digits a 5 digit code and 6 numbers thereafter, 11 digits if taken as singular chunks, the majority of people would be unable to remember without regular rehearsal, however if we separate the number into chunks such as 01709 (1st chunk) 559 (2nd chunk) 510 (3rd chunk) the number is much more easily remembered and can be recalled much easier, We also have to take into account the recency effect when considering the STM, as Glanzer and Cunitz (1966) states that when trying to remember a list the objects at the end of the list are much more easily recalled than the objects in the middle or at the beginning of the list, the biggest problem we face with the STM is that when we are trying to store the information, if we are distracted in anyway then we forget either the full or part of the information we were trying to remember.

Long Term Memory (LTM) is the 3rd store for memory according to the Multistore Model, The LTM is the area for the brain where information that has been learned and rehearsed is stored, this area of the memory is not instantly accessible in the way that the STM is, the LTM has to recall the memories back into the STM for analysis and use, the main distinction between the STM and LTM can be seen through studies of brain damaged patients, and the study of amnesia patients, Amnesia Patients have bad LTM for many different reasons, but are still able to maintain a full usage of their STM shown by Baddeley and Warrington (1970), Atkinson and Shiffrin's Multistore Model, states that we secure information into the LTM through rehearsal, rehearsal being a constant repetition of the information, an example of which would be at school learning the Multiplication Tables, the information is sent to the LTM through constantly going through them over and over again if we do not constantly rehearse the information we wish to secure into the LTM then it will decay and vanish from the STM completely, evidence that supports Atkinson and Shiffrin's view that the LTM is seperate from the STM can come from Shallice and Warrington (1970), Patient KF had a perfectly suitable working STM however due to the surgery was unable to commit new events to his LTM, which meant that he repeatedly solved the same puzzles and was repeatedly distressed when he heard of his uncles death, as he never remembered the information when somebody told him or the information from his visual store however he always was able to remember his name, the people that he loved and all of the previous information previously stored in his LTM,

Atkinson and Shiffrin's Multi Store Model of Memory is very useful as it provides a theory of human memory that is systematic, and has plenty of detail about the theorised structures and processes involved in the formation of memories from the information from the Visual and Auditory Modalities, this theory is useful as it is all based on evidence that highlights the differences between the Multiple Stores, and the processes such as the Temporal Duration, Storage Capacity of both STM and LTM, the Effects of Brain Damage upon the Interaction between LTM and STM and also the stimuli that can result in forgetting information. However it is argues by some that the Multistore Model of Memory is too simplistic, they assume that the STM and LTM consists of one part each, however later research has disproved this theory, other problems for the Multistore Model, is that Rehearsal is not always need for a memory to be formed in the LTM.

Another Memory Model to look at is Bartlett's Reconstructive Memory and Schema Theory, A schema is a piece of information relating to a certain event or piece of knowledge, an example of a schema would be a stereotype, for example the stereotype that rich people are snooty, schemas allow us to form expectations of events that are happening or will happen in the near future, The Reconstructive Memory and Schema Theory of Bartlett (1932) suggests that the memory is not how many people see it, to be like a permanent video recorder, this theory states that the mind only picks up a certain amount of information from the actual event, that is transferred into schemas and that as such there are gaps in the knowledge we have, however because the human mind cannot easily deal with gaps in knowledge, our memories begin an active reconstruction of the event, and the missing pieces of information are filled in by what we perceive to be a plausible addition in the event, and these plausible additions to the actual memory are derived from our expectations from other schemas. An example of this problem with recall can be shown in the experiment carried out by Bartlett in regards to the story The War of the Ghosts, Bartlett theorised that what we call remembering is simply understanding the gist of the story, conversation or event, however the details and word order (I.e. Perfect recall) is impossible as we focus on meanings rather than individual and specific details, this experiment however has been criticised for the lack of specific instructions that Bartlett gave, however he argues that he did not want to in anyway influence the outcome of the results, for example as Gauld and Stephenson (1967) showed that giving specific instructions stating that accurate recall was needed, that the number of distortions in recall halved, more support for Bartlett comes from Sulin and Dooling (1974), this showed that when participants were told that a story was about one of 2 people one fictitious and Adolf Hitler, that the recall of the story which was about the fictitious character was filled with information about Hitler, that the participants claimed to have seen, and even more so with the participants who were told that the story was about Hitler alone became more certain the false information was in the story, these distortions show the memory recall to be influenced by prior knowledge.

This theory has been extremely useful in the legal system as it reduces the validity of eye witness testimony, and has therefore meant that harder more empirical evidence would be needed in order to secure a conviction, however it is argued that Bartlett over emphasised the innacuracy of memory recall because often complex real life material can be recalled much more accurately that in portrayed, he also used unfamilar stories to provide the support for his reconstructive effect of schemas which is a problem as the new nature of these stories meant that there is little or no prior knowledge of the story to fill the gaps in with, Bartlett can also be criticised for lacking experimental controls within his study though on the other hand, recent studies have once again produced the same results, which goes some way to proving the reliability of the study.

Atkinson and Shiffrin's Multi-Store Model of Memory is more simplistic as it suggests we have 3 stores of information that would become memory, the Sensory Store, the Short Term Memory Store and the Long Term Memory Store, information that we percieve from either the Iconic and Auditory Stores (Sensory) has between 0.3 and 1 seconds to be accessed for it to enter the Short Term Memory otherwise the information decays, the Short Term Memory is the area where our cognitive thought takes place and unless distracted can hold approximately 7 chunks of information at any one time, for these chunks to be stored in the Long Term Memory they have to be rehearsed otherwise they too will decay, the Short Term Memory also accesses memories from the Long Term Memory in recall for cognitive analysis and use, Bartlett's Reconstructive and Schema theory states that information within the memory is simply stored as packets of information called schemas, and these schemas influence our recall of past events as our memories are not like video cameras so we miss pieces of information, therefore we add plausible information in to fill the gaps this is known as rationalisation.

Bartlett's Reconstructive and Schema Theory holds the most probability of being accurate as it is not overly simplified which fits in with the vastly complex nature of the human mind, it gives us a reason for distortion in memory recall between multiple eyewitnesses and also gives us a plausible explanation for the structure of memory and individual pieces of information that have been committed into memory.

Word Count = 1807

War of the Ghosts - (Danah Henriksen


Baddely and Warrington (1970) - Psychology A Student's Handbook, Michael Eysenck 2000 Page 318

Gauld and Stephenson (1967) - Psychology A Student's Handbook, Michael Eysenck 2000 Page 330

Glanzer and Cunitz (1966) - Psychology A Student's Handbook, Michael Eysenck 2000 Page 317

Miller (1956) - Psychology A Student's Handbook, Michael Eysenck 2000 Page 317

Shallice and Warrington (1970) - Psychology A Student's Handbook, Michael Eysenck 2000 Page 318

Sperling (1960) - Psychology A Student's Handbook, Michael Eysenck 2000 Page 316

Sulin and Dooling (1974) - Psychology A Student's Handbook, Michael Eysenck 2000 Page 330