MEMORY RESEARCH

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Unit 1: Memory Chapter: Early Memory Research

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1 EARLY
1.1 BACKGROUND: Hermann Ebbinghaus (1850-1901) was the first to carry out research into memory. He carried out extensive series of studies but all his studies were done on himself. He took a ASSOCIATIONIST approach (believed that memory rests on the association of ideas). First to suggest that memory consists of more than one system/store (STM and LTM). He also established the PRIMARY EFFECT and the RECENCY EFFECT.
1.1.1 STUDY EBBINGHAUS (1885): He wanted to establish how quickly information is forgotten over time. He did this by reading a long list of nonsense syllables and tried to recall them. He noted down how many items he could remember and repeated the procedure until he could recall the complete list. Then he looked at how quickly the items were forgotten. The results showed that with successive trials, the rate of the forgetting decreased. To conclude, Immediate forgetting is the loss of material from STM and the gradual forgetting is from LTM.
1.1.2 AO2: Criticised, as if done today it would be done on numerous participants as it can't be REPRESENTATIVE of the population so it can't be generalised as RELIABLE. Importantly, the use of CVCs (CONSONANT-VOWEL-CONSONANT) are questioned as they have low ECOLOGICAL VALIDITY.
1.2 FREDERICK BARTLETT (1886-1969): He challenged the ASSOCIATIONIST standpoint in his book (Remembering (1932)) as he saw that memories were not an exact copy of the material that had been remembered , but rather as a RECONSTRUCTION of the original information (which might not be accurate). This is called the CONSTRUCTIVIST approach. He set the pattern for future research as he stressed that memory should be investigated using meaningful material.
2 SHORT TERM MEMORY
2.1 CAPACITY: SPAN MEASURE is used to establish the capacity of STM. MILLER (1956) stated 'The magical number seven, plus or minus: some limits on our capacity for processing information'. Basically, most people could only repeat back 7 +/- 2 items. The 'items' could be numbers, letters, words or tones. Capacity of STM can be INCREASED by using 'CHUNKING' which was also explained by MILLER. CHUNKING refers to putting two or more pieces of information together to form one unit of information.
2.2 DURATION: On average duration time is 30 SECONDS. Information can be held longer using rehearsal. Duration can be tested using the BROWN-PETERSON Technique.
2.2.1 PETERSON AND PETERSON (1959): Aim was to establish the duration of STM when rehearsal is prevented. Participants heard a trigram and were asked to recall immediately what they heard, or after a set of retention intervals. During the period before recall, they were asked to count backwards in 3s from a specified number. Counting was to prevent MAINTENANCE REHEARSAL. The results showed after the 3-second delay, recall was high but decreased as retention interval lengthened.
2.3 ENCODING: From research we know that information is put into STM in an ACOUSTIC form. VISUAL encoding is also possible. Investigated by CONRAD (1964).
2.3.1 CONRAD (1964): Aimed to establish the form in which information is encoded into STM. Participants were shown six letters from B C F M N P S T V X. They were asked to write them down as they appeared. Presentation was fast so they had to be held in STM. Errors were analysed. Results showed that participants made ACOUSTIC CONFUSION ERRORS (e.g. 'P' instead of 'B' or 'V'). To conclude, even when information is presented visually, encoding is acoustic.
3 LONG TERM MEMORY
3.1 DURATION: Can be 30 seconds (like STM) or up to indefinitely (such as your name). Rehearsal can be used to hold it longer.
3.2 CAPACITY: Is not know but it seems that there is no upper limit to the amount we store.
3.3 ENCODING: Appears to be largely SEMANTIC (information is put into LTM in terms of its meaning). Investigated by Baddeley (1966).
3.3.1 BADDELEY (1966): Aimed to establish and compare the forms of encoding of information. Participants were given short lists of words to recall (these included words that were ACOUSTICALLY similar and SEMANTICALLY similar). Also control lists that were dissimilar. Participants were asked to recall lists immediately or later (STM OR LTM). Results showed that when STM recall, there was confusion between ACOUSTICALLY similar words but not SEMANTICALLY. Opposite result for LTM. To conclude, confusion supports ideas that encoding in STM is acoustic and in LTM is semantic.

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