The Human Memory Model
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. . ). 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 memory retrieves the big words meaning from that storage block (Modal Model, n. d. ). Finally we have the long term memory has a very large capacity and can store information permanently. Long term memory is comprised of several systems the two main categories being declarative memory and non- declarative/ procedural memory each processes a different type of information.
Declarative memory stores facts and events which can be formed after a single trial of a specific event. An example would be the memory of a special day like a wedding, it is an event that you participated in and you will keep that memory forever. Non – declarative memory stores memories of skills and procedures which are gained during a run of trials. An example of this would be riding your bike you learned it through a series of trials and most people can’t even remember learning it but it is something you will never forget (Banikowski, A. K. , n. d. )
One factor that can enhance retention in the sensory memory are to pay attention, think about what you are seeing or hearing on a conscious level, the longer you keep it in your conscious the better chance it will have of moving to your short term memory. Too much information is what can impede retention in the sensory memory because the human brain can only pay attention to so much at one time and the time information is in the sensory memory is so short (Davis & Palladino, 2010). Short term memory can be enhanced by conscious awareness and rehearsal.
There are two types of rehearsal, maintenance rehearsal which is repeating the new information over and over until it sticks. As long as you do this the information can stay in your working memory indefinitely, or you can use maintenance rehearsal for things that you don’t need but once by simply repeating it until you have it and use it then it decays. The other method is elaborative rehearsal which is where you connect new information you want to remember with something you already know from your long term memory, like my son’s teachers name is the same as my mother’s name.
Using imagery helps also, this is where you create a mental picture to attach to the information you are storing (Davis & Palladino, 2010). This method keeps the information in the working memory as well as helping it to move to long term memory. It stands to reason that multi tasking, pain, and stress will distract from your focus on the incoming information and therefore could impede the information flow to storage and long term memory. Long term memory is enhanced when they retention methods in short term memory are thorough.
Mostly it depends on how well the information was learned to begin with, but by connecting the semantic memory with the same episodic memory it is easier to recall information, for example if you have an event or a face to go with a name, then that name will come to mind when you think of that event, as will the persons face. Factors that impede long term memory are brain damage, amnesia, and damage to the hippocampus which is considered a memory gateway to permanent storage (Modal Model, n. d. ). Other things can interfere with memory such as proactive interference and retroactive interference.
Proactive interference is where older memories get in the way of newer information, for example getting a new phone number, it takes time to remember it because when you think of your phone number the old number comes to mind first and you have to struggle to remember the new one. Retroactive interference is where newer information is makes it hard to recall other information that was learned already for example if you see a commercial that you think is funny but then watch the show and later try to tell a friend about the commercial, you will find it hard to remember what the commercial was about.
Some ways to counteract that effect would be to use maintenance rehearsal when you get your new phone number repeat it over and over, write it down repeatedly, and dial it so that watching your fingers dial it gives you a visual image of the number. Increasing study sessions can also help the memory and spreading them out over a period of time (Davis & Palladino, 2010). The easiest task for the memory is forgetting, new information can easily decay before it gets to a storage tank, information can be over written or the retrieval cue can be lost.
There are also medical reasons for forgetting such as amnesia, damage to the hippocampus, organic brain syndrome, and Alzheimer’s. There are ways to improve your memory consolidation and retrieval; some strategies would include organizing your reminders like calendars, planners, lists, bills and anything else you use for reminders of your daily or monthly activities. Consolidate your thoughts by clumping your numbers that you have to remember and other information that can be clumped.
Utilizing your senses can help your retrieval if you connect a visual image with a thought it makes it easier to retrieve, that works with your other senses as well. Repeating and writing new information helps to make it stick as well and also helps with retrieval. Create stories or acronyms to help the retrieval of information. Keep your mind active by challenging your mind with activities of learning and trying new things. The study of the human memory in ongoing and we will continually be learning more and more but the basic premise is that we need to use it or lose it (Davis & Palladino, 2010).
References Banikowski, A. K. (n. d. ) Strategies to Enhance Memory Based on Brain Research. Focus on Exceptional Children, 0015511X, Oct99, Vol. 32, and Issue 2 http://sc-boces. org/english/IMC/Focus/Memory_strategies2. pdf Davis, S. F. , & Palladino, J. J. (2010), Psychology (6th Ed. ) Chapter 7, Pgs. 259- 293. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson Prentice Hall. Modal Model of Memory by Atkinson & Shiffrin, (n. d. ). Retrieved December 1, 2011 from http://sps. nus. edu. sg/~huyihuyi/pub/sp2171/node10. html