The figure below represents a schematic and simplified view of memory and the processes involved in making and storing memory. As can be seen from the diagram, the fabrication of a memory consists of several information stores, each of which plays a different role in the information process and memory formation.
1. Sensory Input and the Sensory Deposit
2. The Transfer of Sensory Deposit Information
The information that will be transferred out of sensory deposit and not lost is that information that we choose to watch. The information that we pay attention to and pass to the second level of memory storage consists of information that will accomplish the tasks or goals we seek to accomplish at that moment.
The best example of how this process of choosing and paying attention to particular information takes place is the Cocktail Phenomenon. We’ve all been in situations where numerous conversations are taking place and our minds are being bombarded with information. These situations show how we choose the information we want to watch. Once we’ve decided what information to watch, we use a process called Pattern Recognition for transferring information from sensory storage to short-term or primary memory. The pattern recognition process involves associating meaning with a sensory pattern. This information is tested on the presence or absence of elementary sensory functions. In other words, we recognize a pattern of raw sensory data as significant. This process is extremely complex and not yet fully understood.
3. Primary or short-term storage
The short-term memory store, also defined as the primary memory store by William James, consists of information from the sensory store. This deposit is also compared to information that we are knowingly aware of. Information recorded in the short-term deposit is a reflection of the original incentive. Studies done to determine the nature of information stored in short-term memory have found that information is primarily acoustic in nature.
The Assay Buffer
Part of the short-term deposit consists of a test buffer. Information can be obtained and held indefinitely there if it is rehearsed, or repeated over and over again. We can choose what information will enter and be stored in the rehearsal buffer.
Duration and Information Storage
The duration of information in short-term memory is small and decay usually takes place within about 15 seconds. Information can be copied or transferred from this deposit to long-term deposit. The information that will be remembered or forgotten depends on events before and after the information is stored. Events that happen prior to information storage can effect how much information is remembered and stored, and for how long. In studies conducted in interference, it was found that prior knowledge of a particular topic affects the ability to encode and remember new information related to that topic. For example, those who have extensive knowledge on a prior topic to expose new information related to that topic may better encode and remember information than those with little or no prior knowledge. This is calledproactive interference. Events that happen after storing information can also affect the storage, also called reactive interference . Studies done on interference and the storage of information in short-term memory concluded that the more similar the information obtained before and after storage is to the desired information, the more likely it is to interfere.
Short term memory capacity
To determine short-term memory storage capacity, an amplitude-memory procedure is used. This procedure consists of reading and testing the retrieval of several different types of information strings. Studies done by George Miller using a procedure like this determine that short-term deposit can hold 7 items of information plus or minus 2. An information item consists of a piece of information such as a letter, number, formula, or phrase. A chunk is anything the brain stores as a unitary representation. So the brain can register and hold more information in short-term memory if it’s organized into a few high-level pieces of information, like grouping letters into words.
Short Term Memory Recovery
Many studies have been conducted to determine how retrieval takes place in short-term memory. Recovery depends on acoustic factors and so errors often made in recovery are similar in sound to the original information. So recovery is sensitive to acoustic factors. Retrieving information from short-term memory is done in a sequential and exhaustive search. Reaction time studies have found that recovery is sequential in nature. Reaction time to retrieve information is linear and increasing. In other words, the more information stored, the longer it takes. Recovery is also exhaustive in nature. Studies done on the reaction time of volunteers have shown that it takes the same amount of time for volunteers to look for information to answer “yes” to questions about information in storage and answering ” no ” to questions about information in storage. It may seem that searching for information and stopping at certain information when answering “yes” to a question should be faster than looking up all the information in storage and answering “no”. However, it takes the same amount of time for both. So searches are exhaustive in nature.
4. Secondary, or long-term storage
The long-term memory store, or secondary store, consists of information that we have permanently more available. The capacity of this deposit is unlimited. Without a long-term store of memory, there would be nothing – no books, no television, no learning, and no communication. Being able to remember, deposit information, and recall the past is extremely important to life as we know it.
Testing and the Storage of Information in Long-Term Memory
The testing process is used to record information from short-term deposit to long-term deposit. Studies by Donald Hebb (see other page) have demonstrated that retrieval improves in information if that information is rehearsed and repeated. Two types of assays are used to store information in memory. One type is called a maintenance test . This process takes place in the short-term memory rehearsal buffer. Low-level, acoustic information is stored and can be kept there indefinitely, but it never enters the warehouse for the long term. The other type of essay is elaborative essay. In this type of trial, information is taken and codes or means of remembering it are created. These codes store the information in the warehouse for the long term and make it retrievable at some future point. By rehearsing and storing information in long-term memory, we try to organize the information in a meaningful way. This is done by trying to fit the new information into a preexisting logical category, or by creating a new logical framework that will hold the information in a cohesive unit. One way we organize information into meaningful units is by using mnemonics. Mnemonics are memory tricks or techniques we use, like imagery, stories, etc., that organize information and make it easier to remember. We also organize information into clusters or chunks based on a similar category,
Types of Information and Long-Term Storage
Two types of memory are stored in long-term storage; episodic and semantic. The first type is episodic memory, or a record of personal life experiences and events. Episodic memory information is associated with a particular place and/or time. The second type of memory is semantic memory, or information that is not associated with a particular time or place. Semantic memory includes knowledge we have about words, language, and symbols; their meanings; relationships between them; and rules for using and manipulating them. Studies done to determine the type of information stored in long-term memory have revealed that information is primarily semantic in nature, or related to meaning.
Long-term deposit recovery
Because information contained in long-term deposit is primarily semantic in nature, retrieval is sensitive to semantic information. Recovery is based on facilitation. In other words, accessing information that resides in a certain category will make it easier, or make accessing other information in that category easier. Memory locations for a category are enabled temporarily in the recovery process and are accessible for use if desired. Long-term deposit information retrieval is based on limited demand. Studies in retrieval have determined that a limited, direct search is made to find the desired type or category of information.
Possible Models for Semantic Memory
It is believed that memory traces that remain in the brain are not literal copies of an event, but are fragmented and distorted representations of the original stimulus. However, much debate exists on exactly how memories are stored in the brain. The exact nature of memory and how it is stored and organized in the brain has yet to be fully understood.I. Chain modelsIn 1969, network models for semantic memory were theorized by Alan Collins and Ross Quillan. According to these models, information stored in semantic memory is connected through links in a huge chain. Information is hierarchically organized into logically nested relationships. That is, properties of a particular class of things are stored in place in a hierarchy that corresponds to that class. Thus, semantic memory is represented by a giant chain of interconnected nodes. These nodes represent individual concepts, ideas, or events. Links or connections that exist between these nodes are based on relationships between concepts. For example, a hierarchical model would start at the top with the human and the basic characteristics of a human. Underneath this would be male and female subcategories and the defining characteristics of these categories, etc. Thus the chain models are based on a hierarchical structure of related concepts and their characteristics.II. Joint-Theoretical ModelsDavid Mye conceptualized set-theoretical models to represent semantic memory in 1970. This model is based on the idea that the meaning of a memory is represented as a set of semantic features. So a set would include all cats, a set all colors, and so on. All elements of a set would also include basic attributes of the concept that is represented by that set, such as all attributes of cats, etc. Thus, this type of model is based on the idea that memory consists of a set of attributes.III. Feature-comparison modelsThe Comparison-Feature Model for semantic memory was theorized by Smith, Shoben, and Rasgos in 1974. This model is based on the assumption that the meaning of a memory is represented as a set of semantic features. Semantic characteristics consist of defining characteristics, either those aspects that are essential to the meaning of the item, and specific characteristics, or those that describe but it is not necessary to define the item. For example, the robin has several defining characteristics, such as feathers, and wings, and several characeristic of its own, as it is small, and it is innocent. To put new information into predefined categories or to judge whether something belongs in a category, a comparison is finished using both kinds of characteristics. By comparing features of articles to put them into meaningful categories, subjects are consistently quicker to judge some articles than others. Items judged faster are those that are most typical or representative of the category. This is called the effect of
5. Memory Information Recovery
Recovery of information contained in memory deposits consists of a complex, reconstruction process. This process relies on working memory functioning. Working memory consists of decision processes that manage the activation of information in short- and long-term stores. These processes manage what information is activated in the long-term deposit and what information is retained or happens in the short-term deposit. Working memory consists of information stored to shortly complete present purposes or goals.
The Recovery Rebuild Process
As shown in the diagram, information retrieval is based on biases and noise that exist at the time retrieval is desired. Thus, the current situation and incentives that exist in the external and internal environment influence the recovery success. Storing memory traces over time is a rebuilding process. Memories are progressively changed over time. Memory is highly associative and is influenced by these events before and after the encoding process. Over time, we tend to carry incomplete, fragmented memory. Thus, memories recalled to a more recent date are not the same as the original. we remanufacture, or we build memories to fill holes with information that likely happened and adjust the memory for memories. Memory recovery is a process of rebuilding and not memory.
Failure to be able to recall memory is a common occurrence. Often times, we try to remember information and know it is on the “tip of our tongues”, but we are unable to access it. The memory trail still exists, but it cannot be recalled. Such occurrences as dreams, amnesia, suppression and repression, hypnosis, hysteria, and split personalities show the problems and complexities of recovery. It is common for people to disguise or intentionally or unintentionally miss out on stored tracks to protect the ego from anguish, fear, or pain. This is common in cases of abuse, particularly in childhood. recovery and failure to remember are based on processes of attention.