Memory and forgetting

1. Outline the main features of the Multi-Store model of memory (6 marks) Atkinson and Shiffrin proposed the Multi-Store model of memory in 1968. The model was also called the two-process because of the importance of the two stores, which are Short-term memory (STM) and Long-term memory (LTM). The model describes memory in terms of information flowing through a system. In this system the information is detected by the sense organs and enters the sensory memory (SM). If we attend to this information it enters the STM and this information can be transferred to the LTM only if that information is rehearsed.

However if this rehearsal does not occur then the information is forgotten through displacement or decay. 2. What is meant by the term ‘Flashbulb Memory’? Outline one explanation of ‘Flashbulb Memories’ (3+3) Flashbulb Memories are when people have a particularly strong and often-detailed memory of where they were and exactly what they were doing when a specific major event occurred. For example most people may remember in great detail what they were doing when the American president John F Kennedy was shot (1963), when Mrs Thatcher resigned as Prime Minster (1990) and even when they heard about the death of Princess Diana (1997).

Conway et al (1994) tested the accuracy of Flashbulb memory. He did a study using British and non-British participants. Participants were tested after the news of Margaret Thatcher’s resignation from parliament and again 11 months later. It was found that the British participants recall was better at 80% whereas only 25% of non-British participants could recall the event correctly. This was due to a strong emotional response. It is concluded that there was some strong disagreement about flashbulb memory.

This is because some argue that there is a distinctive type of memory characterised by emotional response, produced by event and the importance attached to these events. Whereas others see nothing-special bout flashbulb memory subjected to normal processes of forgetting just like other memories. 3. How has the concept of repression been used to explain forgetting in LTM? (6 marks) Repression emphasises the role of emotion in forgetting. Freud suggested that we forget because there s great anxiety associated with certain memories and the physiological pain of recall would be too great to cope with.

When this is the case we may use the unconscious defence mechanism of repression to push such memories out of consciousness. These memories continue to exist but in the unconscious mind. For example memories of being abused as a child may bee to disturbing for a person to cope with and may be outside conscious recall. It has been proved difficult to demonstrate the existence of repression in the laboratory, although a number of attempts have been made. Levinger and Clark (1961) asked participants to generate associated words to a series of words presented by the researchers.

Some of these words were emotionally neutral i. e. tree, window and others were emotionally arousing i. e. angry, quarrel. When asked to recall the associated words, participants showed a significant tendency to recall the neural associations rather than the emotional ones. This seems to offer support for the idea of repression since it looks as though anxiety-provoking responses had been repressed. 4. Some psychologists believe that memories are never lost; they are available but no longer accessible.

Consider the strength’s and weaknesses of the explanation of forgetting in LTM. (12 marks) There are numerous psychological explanations of forgetting in LTM. These are decay, interference, retrieval failure, context-dependant learning, state dependant learning and emotional forgetting in the form of flashbulb memories and repression. Some psychologists have argued that some material can be lost from LTM in the form of decay through disuse of that material. The idea is that knowledge or skills, which have not been used for a long time, will fade away (decay).

However this does not apply to everything, as skills that require motor memory, such as riding a bicycle or swimming, do not seem to be forgotten, even after long periods of time without rehearsal. This has been a major discussion issue that has had to be considered by psychologists. Baddeley (1999) suggests that flying a plane or riding a bike involves a continuous skill where each action provides the cue for the next action. These skills therefore require little maintenance to be retained. However skills such as resuscitation which are much more complex require accurate knowledge as well as motor skill.

Therefore occasional rehearsal is required for the information to be maintained. There is also evidence to prove that certain verbal memories are remarkably resistant to long-term decay. Bahrick and Phelps (1987) conducted a long term study of American college graduates, in which they found that there was rapid rate of forgetting the Spanish vocabulary over the first three or four years after graduation. After this time they showed remarkably little further decline over the following 30 to 50 years. As a whole these findings seem to imply that even where time has a distinctive part in forgetting, we still cannot say it is the only factor.

People tend to forget things all the time, both past events and future events. Psychologists have tried to explain why this happen and they have come up with several different explanations. The reason why we forget can be due to …

With temporal duration the material held in the STM is relatively short-lived. Baddely and Hitch (1974) suggested that information may survive in the phonological loop for two seconds. Atkinson & Shiffrin (1968) believed it may last a little longer, although …

One of the most influential models of memory was the two-process model by Atkinson and Schiffrin (1968); incoming information enters the short-term memory (STM) as a result of applying attention to a stimulus. The brain makes sense of the incoming …

Peterson & Peterson’s studies show that traces of memory disappeared over a period of time from short-term memory. Baddeley & Hitch and Atkinson & Shiffrin produced models of memory that state rehearsal is necessary to encode short-term memories in to …

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