Describe the Processes Underlying the Human Memory
The processes underlying the human memory are extremely complicated and to this day relatively little is known about it. The memory is in actual fact one of our most important functions, without our memory we would not be able to learn, associate or improve. There are two types of memory storage, the long-term memory (for anything more than a few seconds) and the short-term memory. Both these functions are accessed in different ways by our brain and interpreted into meaningful data.
The short-term memory can hold a small amount of information, approximately 5-9 characters such as a telephone number (this is called “The Magic Number Seven plus or minus two), for a matter of seconds. A short-term memory model by Atkinson and Shiffrin in 1968 cited by Russell (1979) states that the short term memory functions by accepting information constantly into 7 slots, this information is then rehearsed until more information enters the slots and it is displaced. To use a telephone number as an example, we will most probably repeat a number to ourselves in order to remember it, the longer we repeat the number, the longer it will stay in our memory. If we repeat the number for more than 30 seconds it is likely that it will transfer into our long-term memory. When we introduce information into our short-term memory it is called encoding, this is often done using an acoustic or echoic code, we ‘practice’ this information in our memory by remembering the sound of it. This can often lead to mistakes being made, for example when remembering a car registration number a similar sounding letter or number can replace the true one e.g. B and T.