Effect of depth of processing on memory

Imagine one morning you wake up to find you’ve completely lost your memory. How do you feel? You would be unable to neither do many things you take for granted such as remembering your name, age or where you lived nor recognise any familiar faces or voices. You would not recall what you where thinking about few minutes ago or what your plans were for the day, infact you would be absolutely helpless without your memory.

Memory is the process of retaining information after the original is no longer present. There are many links between learning and memory; certain things that are learned and memory are very similar phrases. Although specialists who theorize behaviourists would dismiss the idea of memory, because they claim memory is more than just learning, suggesting the involvement of cognitive process. It is important to recognise that a normally functioning memory system must be capable of three stages:

1. Encoding: when information is changed into codes so we are able to make sense of it. For example sound waves are changed into words and words are changed into meanings. 2. Storage: the information that we encoded then is stored, so it becomes available sometime in the future. Our memory for a word will include memory for how the word sounds like, looks like and what the word means. Different types of information are stored in different ways depending on how we retrieve it.

3. Retrieval: retrieval occurs when we try to retrieve information from storage. Sometimes we don’t seem to remember something, this maybe because we are unable to retrieve it. For example this can happen when you go to get something from a different room, but as you get to the room you seem to forget what you went in there for. Sometimes returning to the original room often helps us to retrieve the information.

We have looked at some of the research on memory now we will look closely at two models of memory. One of the best-known models of memory is the mutistore model. R.Atkinson and R.Shiffrin (1968) proposed we pay extra attention to information that enters the sensory memory where it can be registered for short periods of time before its lost through decay or passed on to short-term memory. Short-term memory contains a small amount of information, which is active at one time; it can contain seven items so new information displaces information that is already in there. Short-term memory can hold information for up to 30seconds unless it is rehearsed. When information is rehearsed it is transferred to long-term memory where it will become permanent and can be used in the future although it is possible for loss of information through decay or interference.

Craik and Lockhart (1972) dismissed the idea of the multistore model put forward by Atkinson & Shiffrin and proposed another way of interpreting, they claimed that short-term and long-term stores are not separated, but whether we remember information or not really depends on what we do with it. For example, if your remembering a word by acoustic rehearsal and not thinking about it deeply enough the word is processed at a shallow level and it can be easily forgotten. Whereas if you try remembering the word using different techniques such as rhyming word or using the word to fit a sentence, you are processing this information more deeply and therefore you are likely to recall it.

Aim My aim for this experiment is to asses the levels of processing and investigating the effect of mental imagery on memory. Hypothesis There will be a significant difference between the numbers of words recalled by processing the word to a deeper level. Null hypothesis: There will not be a significant difference between the numbers of words recalled by processing the word to a deeper level any difference is due to chance.

Method Design The study I am doing is an experimental study, it gives clue about cause and effect and it is very similar to what Craik and Lockhart did. To test my theory I asked two volunteers to look at a piece of paper and answer yes/no questions containing words (please see appendix) in the piece of paper there was two different sections known as the shallow and deep end. This theory was used to test how many words the participant would remember.

The independent variable in this experiment was the participant’s depth of processing in the deep or shallow end. The dependent variable was the number of words recalled from the memory test. Extraneous variable can affect the experiment and the results. To control my variable all participants will follow the same method. Standardised instructions (please see appendix) and a standardised material that concluded a blue or black pen. The experiment was beneficial because the same material could be used for experimental and controlled conditions.


The participant I chose were aged 16 and over. I did not choose children because they need to have parental consent for ethical reasons. The two participant involved in the experiment was a male and a female; I chose them by means of an opportunity sample. For instance males may react differently to females. Due to ethical right I informed the participants that they had a right to leave during the experiment or withdraw their results at anytime if they wish to.

An experimental investigation took place in order to test the hypothesis, that there will be a higher score in words that have been associated with meaning rather than with a matched rhyming words. The aim of the investigation was to …

The working memory model (WMM) was put forward by Baddeley and Hitch, 1974, to overcome some of the shortcomings of the multi store model of memory (Atkinson and Shiffrin, 1968). A main criticism of the MSM is that it oversimplifies …

After reading over the studies of Peterson and Peterson, and Glanzer and Cunitz, this investigation has been based around the subject of distracters and interferences with short-term memory. The aim of determining whether the use of a distracter affects short-term …

“The ability to process and retrieve information is known as memory”1. The most influential explanation of memory is Atkinson’s and Shiffrin’s models of memory. This theory suggests that there are separate memory stores, short term memory (STM) and long term …

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