Running head: MEMORY WORKSHEET
July 30, 2012
Brenda Van Wyck, Psy.D
Primary Memory and Its Characteristics
Primary memory is more commonly known as short-term memory. Considered the
workstation, information is temporarily manipulated, held, operates on representations from the
memory, and is a “staging ground for operations of representations to make cognition happen”
(Willingham, 2007, p. 244). Since the 19th century, early span of apprehension, how forgetting
occurs, and how much information is stored simultaneously has been studied (Willingham,
2007). The short term model is relatively incorrect “but proves to be so important to cognitive
psychology” familiarity to the concept is important (Willingham, 2007, p. 245).
Taking in information from the environment, before entering the primary memory,
information is buffered in the sensory memory (Willingham, 2007). For example, when asked a
simple question such as, “What color is a polar bear?” the answer is retrieved in your secondary
memory where it is put into your primary memory and is now available for sentence structure to
answer the question (Willingham, 2007, p. 247). In addition, according to Willingham, “ The
primary memory is limited to 2 seconds of acoustic code, four seconds of visiospatial objects,
and is temporary because interference and decay (Sperling,1960) act to mediate what is
simultaneously retrieved” (Willingham, 2007, p. 253).
Process of Memory from Perception to Retrieval
Results from Di Lollo’s (1980) experiment shows that iconic memory starts to decay at the
onset of the perceived stimulus, not when the stimulus disappears (Willingham, 2007). Studies
show both iconic (visiospatial and semantic) memory and echoic (auditory memory) have a
duration of between 500 ms and one second while existing within the framework of sensory
memory. Although a very large capacity information in the sensory memory quickly decays and
is manipulated whereas attention and semantics determine which memories are actively brought
into primary memory awareness (Willingham, 2007). Concurrently, results are inconclusive
where the iconic memory fits into the cognitive process, but it shows importance to the “visual
system and primary memory interaction” (Willingham, 2007, p. 257).
The Process is Compromised
Forgetting in primary memory is effected by interference as initially shown in Brow-Peterson
paradigm. Proactive interference occurs “when older learning interferes with new learning”
whereas retroactive interference occurs when “later learning interferes with earlier learning”
(Willingham, 2007, p. 267). Subsequently, acoustic confusion effect is a result of randomly
substituting letters and sounds one assumes is correct. The digit span task and word length effect
(shows importance of time) measure the capacity of primary memory when a semantic code
(depends on chunking) is used (Willingham, 2007).
Reliability and Unreliable Memory Retrieval
Whether we remember something (stored in the warehouse) depends on “what we do with the
information”, whether you think hard about it and use it” and whether the information is
periphery information rather than central information (Willingham, 2007, p. 245). Depths of
processing (Craik and Lockhart, 1972) refer to greater degrees of semantic involvement, relating
the information to something emotional and personal. Most information people remember have
an emotional component. Again, another dichotomy in the psychological realm of reality, does
emotion helps memory, “or is emotion just focusing attention”. Subsequently, once the cognitive
process is completed the neural mechanisms are still hard at work. Consolidation, (the neural
process) continues for hours until days, depending. In the surrounding environment,
In addition cueing is paramount in memory retrieval whether it is contextual cueing,
situational cueing, or locality cueing. Also encoding is determined by how we process the
material and think about it. Furthermore, it is clear that recognition is much more successful
when you are trying to remember something in the same situation and the same context.
Previous knowledge reduces what you have to remember, guides your interpretations, and of
ambiguous details, and makes unusual things stand out (Willingham, 2007). Furthermore it is
clear that recognition is much more successful that recall in memory retrieval. When using recall
as a means of remembering we are trying to retrieve information without cues. Without the
benefit of semantic cues such as the link between and table and chair, we are left to recall the
memory individually (Willingham, 2007).
Willingham, D. (2007). Cognition: The thinking animal (3rd Ed.). Upper Saddle River, NJ:
WK 3 Individual Assignment
150 words each
You followed this criteria.
What is primary memory?
What are the
characteristics of primary
You did a great job with this
question. You followed the
elements and described
primary memory as well as
the characteristics well.
What is the process of
memory from perception
to retrieval? What happens
when the process is
Is it possible for memory
retrieval to be unreliable?
Why or why not? What
factors may affect the
reliability of one’s
Punctuation, and APA
You did a great job
describing the process of
memory as well as what
happens when the process is
Nice job with this question.
You discussed how memory
retrieval can be unreliable-as
well as a comprehensive
discussion on the factors that
See paper for comments.
Overall, I’m impressed with
this worksheet. You did a
really nice job with
punctuation, and APA style.
Very comprehensive and
demonstrated a strong
understanding of the material!
Nice job Jody!
Late Penalty 10% per day