A Processing Dilemma Serial Or Parallel?

1046 words - 4 pages

HS 6A Processing Dilemma: Short term memory - serial or parallel?Word Count: 1114AbstractMany theories of short term memory share a common conclusion that information is processed either sequentially (parallel) or simultaneously (serial). The purpose of this study is to determine short term memory (STM) uses serial or parallel processing, while assessing reaction times and recall using a computer generated programme. The experiment required only one participant who judged whether a probe digit was present in an original sequence of digits. Selecting the B-key (probe present) or N-key (not present) recorded his response. Speed and accuracy was important to determine reaction-times. The linear results would suggest wether serial or parallel processing is evident.A Processing Dilemma: Short term memory - serial or parallel?Short term memory is fragile. Processing is limited in both capacity and duration. Miller (1994) reports that short term memory can only process seven plus or minus two items. He also purports that "by organizing data input simultaneously into a sequence of chunks, we can manage to break this informational bottleneck". (Miller, 1994) Unless information is rehearsed, short term memory can only hold data for 15-20 seconds. "The question of whether the mind can deal with more than one thing at a time has a very long history" (Snodgrass & Townsend, 1980). Theorists have been interested in whether memory is processed simultaneously (serial) or sequentially (parallel) for decades (Townsend & Wenger, 2004). While according to Ross & Anderson (1981), researchers have great difficulty in deciding between serial and parallel processing, as these processes can't be seen, so must be inferred from external sources.The aim of this experiment is to determine if short term memory uses serial processing of information, and estimate how long it takes to search for each item in short term memory. I hypothesise that once the participant completes the experiment, the linear regression results would suggest wether serial or parallel processing is evident.MethodParticipantThe experiment only required testing one participant. The participant was a 46 year old male who volunteered in response to a verbal request. The participant was told he would be taking part in a basic memory activity. He understood what was to be required for this experiment and claimed no credit for his time.MaterialsThe materials used for this experiment included a Computer with internet access and link to the online interactive computer stimulus for Short term memory. This programme, designed by Massey University solely for the purpose of this experiment, was available via the Massey Stream website. A pen and notepad were also used to collect experiment results.ProcedureThe stimulus comprised of 64 trials, each trial randomly consisting of 1 to 4 digits consecutively displayed on the computer screen. An asterisk was presented at the end of each trial sequence. After a...

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