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How can forgetting over the short term be explained best?

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How can forgetting over the short term be explained best? Human memory, like memory on a computer, allows us to store information for later use. Unlike a computer however human memory doesn't only have two types of storage for information. Whereas a computer either has permanent storage or permanent deletion humans have three distinct storage capabilities. Sensory memory is very brief only lasting a few seconds and is replaced by Short term memory when the information in our sensory memory comes into the conscious or our awareness. Information in the short term memory is information that is currently active, such as reading this page. Although short term memory can definitely last longer it still has a very limited capacity. Finally there is the long term memory store, which is the one most similar to the permanent storage of a computer. Forgetting over the short term occurs when information from the short term memory store is lost before you are able to commit it to your long term memory store. Forgetting over the short term can be put down to an overload of information in the short term store. Information in the short term store is very short lived if not backed up and refreshed. ...read more.


This is the same with memory; if information wasn't pushed out you would be overloaded and unable to decipher anything. So forgetting over the short term can be partially explained by the making of room for new information. Although this may seem to be a very logical explanation as to why we can forget certain things almost as soon as we hear them it does rely heavily on the assumption that there are definitely a limited number of slots. Another idea behind forgetting over the short term is down to the fact that displacement may occur before there is a chance to rehearse the information. As long as information in the short term memory is regularly rehearsed, it can apparently be maintained indefinitely (Bjork, 1996). When someone tells you something that you know you need to remember, like a phone number, you repeat the number over to yourself to help you remember it. If this rehearsal is prevented and the information is not re-circulated through the short term memory then rapid forgetting occurs. The process of repeatedly verbalising or thinking about information will not necessarily get it into the long term memory but it will keep it in the short term memory a little longer. ...read more.


So it can be seen that forgetting over the short term can be explained best by a number of different reasons. However it seems most likely that it is due to a combination of the above discussed points as opposed to one alone. There is obviously only so much you can take in at a time and thus it stands to reason that your short term memory will become cluttered. Even if it is not a case of only 7 slots everything has a capacity limit and once this is reached some information is bound to be pushed out in order to make room for the new stuff. Some of the information you have taken in may be displaced before you have the chance to rehearse it thus increasing the likely hood that you will quickly forget it. So displacement and lack of rehearsal go hand in hand when it comes to forgetting certain things almost as soon as you have heard or seen them. Primacy and recency effect also go hand in hand as both are to do with the order in which you hear information and thus the attention you are paying to certain parts of the information. There are a number of different contributing factors as to why we forget over the short term and this forgetting should be considered as a combination of them and not solely down to one. ...read more.

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