Compare and contrast the multi-store model of memory with the working memory model.
This essay will firstly briefly describe the theories and important facts about the original multi-store model of memory (MSM) and the working memory model (WMM).
This essay will then evaluate the key studies within these two models and explain the strengths and weaknesses of the main theories.
The final part of this essay will be to examine the similarities and differences between the two models.
The first issue that needs to be addressed however is what exactly is memory? “ Without memory we would be servants of the moment, with nothing but our innate reflexes to help us deal with the world. There would be no language, no art, no science, no culture. Civilization itself is the distillation of human memory” (Blakemore 1988). The simple interpretation of Blakemore’s theory on what memory is that a person’s memory is at least one of the most important things in their life and without it civilization itself could not exist.
One of the first psychologists to research memory was James in 1890. James was the first person to make the distinction between primary and secondary memory, which corresponds with short-term, and long-term memory, without this distinction then the MSM could not have been created.
The MSM was created by Atkinson and Shiffrin (1968), this model was proposed to explain how the human memory works. The MSM is based on four key areas the sensory memory, the short-term memory, the long-term memory and rehearsal.
In the sensory memory is the information that is given to a person by their senses, i.e. what a person feels, hears, tastes, smells or sees is stored within this memory. Any information stored within this memory only lasts for less than a second before it is either forgotten or transferred to a person’s short-term memory. The existence of sensory memory was proven by Sperling (1960), in this experiment Sperling discovered that after showing the participants a series of letters for less than a second they where then asked to recall as many letters as possible but on average they only could recall about 36%. According to Lloyd et al (1984) about 5% of all of a persons memories that are stored in their sensory memory are transferred to their short-term memory.
The short-term memory allows a person to store the information for long enough for it to be used, the short-term memory can also be called the working memory however this term later came to have a different meaning. The short-term memory however only has a limited capacity to store information; Miller (1956) claims that in order to save space in a person’s short-term memory they chunk information together but despite this space saving the short-term memory can only hold seven plus or minus two of these chunks of information. According to Atkinson and Shiffrin (1971) this information can be stored unaided for about 15-30 seconds, this time frame can be extended by rehearsal.