Cognitive Psychology Class Notes > Models of Memory


maintaining information over time (Matlin, 1998)

the mental processes of acquiring and retaining information for later retrieval (Ashcraft, 1994)

Four Approaches to the Study of Memory

  • Atkinson-Shiffrin Model (1968)
  • Levels of Processing Approach
  • Tulving's Model
  • Parallel Distributed Processing Approach

Atkinson-Shiffrin Multistore Model (1968)

Structural Features:

Sensory Memory

iconic memory

echoic memory

Short-Term Memory (STM)

verbal info is encoding acoustically

duration = 30 s (unless rehearsed)

Long-Term Memory (LTM)

relatively permanent store

info is encoded semantically

Control Processes:

Maintenance Rehearsal

in STM --> LTM

verbal repetition (it's acoustic)

Elaborative Rehearsal

in STM --> LTM

meaningful repetition (it's semantic)

[Craik & Lockhart, 1972]


Rundus (1971) - Serial Position Curve

primacy effect

recency effect

elimination of recency effect

Neurological Evidence

H.M. - epileptic (portions of temporal lobe & hippocampus removed)

STM is normal, but cannot learn new info

cannot transfer info from STM to LTM

K.F. - motorcycle accident (damage to left side of cerebral cortex)

has normal long-term recall but STM is limited


model posits that STM and LTM are separate, distinct systems

Neurological Evidence

K.F. - how is this possible if STM is a gateway to LTM?

Short-Term Working Memory (Baddeley, 1982) as a better approach?

Levels of Processing Approach (Craik & Lockhart, 1972)

shallow processing -

analysis of information based on physical or sensory characteristics

deep processing -

analysis of information based on meaning (e.g. images, other associations, past experiences)


Maintenance vs. Elaborative

the more rehearsal you do differentially affects what you remember, depending upon the Type of Rehearsal you do


deep levels of processing should lead to better recall than shallow levels of processing


distinctiveness - stimulus is very different from all other memory traces useful when trying to remember differences between similar itemselaboration - rich processing in terms of meaning

useful when trying to remember similarities between different items

generation effect:

we remember items better if we make them up ourselves rather than if people give us the items to

remembersea - o____

sea - ocean

self-reference effect:

we remember more information when we relate that information to ourselves

does generous apply to you?


circularity - what is deep?

if processing is deep, then retention will be better

if retention was better, then processing must have been deep

encoding specificity - we recall more info if the retrieval conditions match the encoding condtions

therefore, if retrieval conditions emphasize shallow features to be recalled, then shallow processing during encoding can lead to better recall than deep processing

Tulving's (1972, 1993) Multiple Memory System

episodic memory

autobiographical memory; personally experienced and remembered events of a lifetime

semantic memory

general world-knowledge (e.g. vocabulary, grammar)

you don't have an 'episode' in which you remember when and where someone told you for the first time 'that's a bird'

procedural memory

knowledge of 'how to' (difficult to verbalize)how to play a guitar

how to ride a bike

K.C. (motorcycle guy) know how to play chess (procedural), but cannot remember playing anyone (episodic)

Parallel Distributed Processing (PDP)

Basic Tenets:

1. Memory is flexible can even deal with incomplete or inappropriate input.2. Content addressibiltiy: we can use attributes (e.g. color) to access info in memory.3. Varying effectiveness of cues: some cues work better than others

(penguin - 'has wings' vs. 'can't fly')


1. networks of neuron-like units (neural nets)

2. parallel search processing

3. excitatory connections

4. inhibitory connections

5. spontaneous generalizations (making inferences/judgments about general info [English majors] that they never learned)

Do English majors tend to be politically liberal

6. default assignments (making inferences/judgments about a specific category of information that was never learned)

What is Nicoles [who is an English major] political preference?

never talked politics, but general category is activated and you would probably response LIBERAL

7. graceful degradation (activation of partial information [TOT])