Memory Model

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Memory Model

Memory Model: Researchers have developed numerous models to describe how our memory works.

The Traditional Model of Memory

There are some major models of memory. In the mid-1960s, based on the data available at the time, researchers projected a model of memory distinguishing two structures of memory first proposed by William James that is primary memory, which holds temporary information presently in use, and secondary memory, which holds information permanently or at least for a very long time. Richard Atkinson and Richard Shiffrin projected a diverse model that conceptualized memory in terms of three memory stores:

  • Sensory Store capable of storing relatively limited amounts of information for very short-term periods.
  • Short-Term Store, capable of storing information for slightly longer periods but of comparatively limited capacity as well.
  • Long-Term Store, of very huge capacity, capable of storing information for very
    long periods of time, maybe even indefinitely.

Memory Model

The model distinguishes among structures for holding information, termed stores, and the information stored in the structures termed memory. Currently, cognitive psychologists generally describe the three stores as sensory memory, short-term memory, and long-term memory. Also, Atkinson and Shiffrin were not proposing that the three stores are distinct physiological structures. Objectively, the stores are hypothetical constructs concepts that are not themselves conventional measurable or observable but that assist as mental models for understanding how a psychological phenomenon works.

Shows a simple information-processing model of these stores. This Atkinson-Shiffrin model focusses the passive storage areas in which memories are stored, but it also refers to some control processes that govern the transfer of information from one store to another.

Sensory Store

This store is the initial source of much information that ultimately enters the short- and long-term stores. Strong evidence says in favor of the existence of an iconic store. The iconic store is a distinct visual sensory register that holds information for very short periods. Its name derives from the point that information is stored in the form of icons. These, in turn, are visual images that represent something. Icons generally resemble whatever is being represented. If you have ever “written” your name with a lighted sparkler or stick of incense against a dark background, you have experienced the persistence of visual memory. You briefly “see” your name, although the sparkler leaves no physical trace. This visual perseverance is an example of the type of information held in the iconic store. Sperling’s experiment is used for the sensory store.

Short-Term Store

This store holds memories for a few seconds and sometimes up to a couple of minutes. For example, can you remember the name of the researcher who discovered the iconic store? If you can recall the names, you used some memory-control processes for doing so. According to the Atkinson-Shiffrin model, the short-term store does extra than hold onto a few items. It also has some control processes accessible that control the flow of information to and from the long-term store, where we might hold information for longer periods. Usually, information remains in the short-term store for about 30 seconds, except it is rehearsed to retain it. Information is stored acoustically by the way it sounds rather than visually by the way it looks.


Long-Term Store

Long term store holds memories perhaps for an indefinite period of time. When the short term memory is rehearsed it then turns into the long term memory. We hold in it information we need to get us by in our day-to-day lives people’s names, where we keep things, how we schedule ourselves on different days, and so on.  How much information can we grip in long-term memory? How long does it last? The question of storage capacity can be inclined quickly because the answer is simple. We do not know. Nor do we know how we would find out. We can design experiments to tax the limits of short-term memory, but we do not know how to test the limits of long-term memory and thereby find out its capacity. Some theorists have suggested that the capacity of long-term memory is infinite, at least in practical terms. It turns out that the question of how long information lasts in long-term memory is not easily answerable.

An Integrative Model:

Working Memory

The working-memory model is probably the most generally used and accepted model these days. Psychologists who use it view short-term and long-term memory from a different. The table given below shows the divergences between the Atkinson-Shiffrin model and an alternative perspective. Note the semantic divisions in how memory components are labeled, the differences in metaphorical representation, and the differences in emphasis for each view. The key feature of the alternative view is the role of working memory. Working memory holds only the most recently activated, or conscious, the portion of long-term memory, and it moves these activated elements into and out of brief, temporary memory storage.

The Components of Working Memory

Memory Model

Working of Memory

Memory Model


Memory Measuring Tasks