-What are the concepts of sensory memory, working memory, short term memory, and long term memory? Please include examples to support your explanations. Explain the theory of forgetting **Provide citation and reference to the material(s) you discuss.**
Sensory memory, working memory, short-term memory, and long-term memory are fundamental concepts in the field of cognitive psychology that describe different stages and processes of information processing and storage in the human memory system. These concepts are crucial for understanding how individuals perceive, encode, store, and retrieve information.
Sensory memory is the first stage of memory and refers to the brief momentary storage of sensory information from our environment. It involves the retention of sensory impressions for a very short period. Iconic memory and echoic memory are two types of sensory memory. Iconic memory is the visual sensory memory that lasts for about half a second, allowing us to retain visual information after the stimulus is gone. For example, when watching a moving object, the residual visual image that lingers for a brief moment is an example of iconic memory. On the other hand, echoic memory is the auditory sensory memory that lasts for a few seconds. A typical example is when someone asks you a question and you ask them to repeat it because you were momentarily distracted. This refers to the brief storage of the auditory information in echoic memory.
Working memory, also known as short-term memory, is the memory system responsible for temporarily holding and manipulating information needed for cognitive tasks. It has a limited capacity and a short duration unless the information is actively rehearsed. Working memory is involved in tasks such as problem-solving, decision-making, and language comprehension. For example, when solving a mathematical problem, working memory holds the numbers, operators, and intermediate results in mind until the final answer is reached. The concept of working memory was proposed by Baddeley and Hitch (1974) and its model includes several components, such as the phonological loop, visuospatial sketchpad, and central executive.
Short-term memory (STM) is often used interchangeably with working memory, but some researchers distinguish between the two. STM refers specifically to the passive storage of information for a brief period without any manipulation. It is a temporary storage system that is considered a subset of working memory. For instance, if someone reads out a phone number to you and you try to remember it long enough to write it down, your STM is engaged for that short period of time.
Long-term memory (LTM) is the stage of memory responsible for storing information over an extended period, ranging from minutes to years. LTM has a seemingly unlimited capacity and can store vast amounts of information indefinitely. Encoding, consolidation, and retrieval are the key processes involved in LTM. Once information is encoded and consolidated, it can be retrieved and used for various purposes. For example, recalling historical events or remembering personal experiences like childhood memories are instances of long-term memory retrieval.
One prominent theory that explains forgetting in memory is the decay theory. According to this theory, forgetting occurs due to the spontaneous decay or disintegration of memory traces over time when they are not used or accessed. As memories are stored in the brain, the connections between neurons that represent those memories weaken if they are not reinforced through retrieval or use. Over time, the memory traces become less distinct and more difficult to retrieve. This theory suggests that forgetting happens simply because a memory fades away if not actively maintained.
In summary, sensory memory involves the momentary retention of sensory information, working memory or short-term memory enables the temporary storage and manipulation of information, and long-term memory allows for the storage of information over extended periods. These memory concepts are fundamental for the understanding of human information processing. As for forgetting, the decay theory suggests that memories fade away over time when not reinforced or retrieved.
Baddeley, A. D., & Hitch, G. (1974). Working memory. In G. H. Bower (Ed.), *The psychology of learning and motivation: Advances in research and theory* (Vol. 8, pp. 47-89). Academic Press.