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A Summary of Memory.

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Introduction

A Summary of Memory. Ebbinghaus began the systematic study of memory using nonsense syllables. He showed that memory declined very rapidly at first, then levelled off. James (1890) observed that whilst memory appears to store some information for a lifetime other information is lost really quickly. He distinguished between two types of memory primary structure and secondary structure. Today these are known as short-term memory (STM) and long term memory (LTM). The limited capacity of STM can be increased through chunking as Miller (1956) discovered. However, chunking depends on matching incoming information and it?s representation in LTM as Miller and Selfridges discovered (1950). The closer a sentence is to English the better it was recalled in the study. Bower and Springston (1970) presented a group of American students with familiar letters (e.g., fbi, phd0 and they grouped them in a different combination (egf, bip, hd) and asked other students. More letters were recalled correctly when they were grouped into acronyms. The first group could chunk the information together and get it out of their mental dictionaries. Coding in STM is mainly acoustic as indicated by acoustic errors when Conrad (1964) did a study. 62 people thought they heard a B but it was a V. Semantic and visual coding are also used. The Brown-Peterson technique shows that STM?s duration is very short in the absence of rehearsal and especially when something else distracts the participant they forget again. ...read more.

Middle

They asked them to recall their details in November, January, March and May. The accuracy maintained over time. This suggests that memories that are distinct can be resistant over time. Bartlett thought we reconstruct the past by trying to fit it into our existing understanding of the world he called this a schema. Schemas provide us with ready-made expectations, help to make the world more predictable, allow us to fill gaps with our memories and can produce distortions in the memory process. Allport and Postman (1947) showed participants a picture of a white man holding a razor and a black man. Participants were asked to give details about the picture. The main change of information was that the black man was holding the razor. In this study participants have used a schema, they can be very powerful and change a lot of correct information too incorrect. Loftu?s research is mainly to do with EWT but is based on Bartlett reconstructive memory approach. Loftus argues that in court cases witnesses are asked misleading questions, which distort the correct information. Identification parades are used so the witness can visually pick out the suspect. The Devlin committee started these in 1973. In 347 cases in which prosecution occurred when EWT was the only source 74% were convicted. EWT is regarded as very important in legal cases. But the reconstructive memory has questioned people on how useful it really is? The Devlin committee recommended that one single EWT isn?t enough evidence to convict a person except if the person is a close friend or relative. ...read more.

Conclusion

According to Loftus and Bartlett EWT is not reliable but some people argue this. EWT can be very useful, as it has caught a lot of suspects but at the same time it has caught a few innocent suspects! The legal system should improve the use of EWT. They should definitely get rid of misleading questions and lawyers should not be allowed to ask false questions and this is playing tricks with the human memory. EWT is not reliable by itself it needs evidence to back it up. In my opinion identity parades are dangerous for example a little old woman might be asked to pick out of 5 black men wearing exactly the same she really hasn?t got a clue so she might just pick at random or use a schema. I certainly wouldn?t take part in one just in case I was picked. CCTV is a good idea in my opinion there should be more of them as they catch a lot of suspect?s e.g. a lot of shoplifters. The government should be aware of all these things I have mentioned about memory. Memory can be very useful and is a major part of every human being. Memory can remember things at the scene of the crime. But do we know if these things we remember are correct as schemas and the concept of the world around us can interfere. Over time the information could decay and vital evidence to a crime might fade away if not caught in time. The government should only use EWT when necessary but for major court cases there should be a lot more evidence to back it up. ...read more.

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