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Modal Model of Memory

Created from notes, lectures and tutorials in course EDUC262 at Macquarie University, Semester 2, 2013.

Ryan Besgrove

on 23 July 2014

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Transcript of Modal Model of Memory

Sensory Memory
Working Memory
Long Term Memory
Sensory Memory Limitations
Sensory memory has a very short duration. It is the part of the brain that does the processing of the stimuli from each of the 5 senses.

Sound has around a 3 second duration in sensory memory.
Visual stimuli has around a 1/2 second duration in sensory memory. This is why you can still see trails of your hand if you wave it in front of your face.
2. Processing capabilities
We can only "attend" to a limited number of stimuli at once.
Attention is defined as being actively processing and using the information
When we attend to information it is encoded to our working memory.
Attention can be automatic or effortful.
The brain is always processing the stimuli.
In the case of "party talk" your ears are hearing things but you're not necessarily attending to all of the audio cues. If your name or something familiar comes up you can automatically switch to "focusing" in on that conversation happening.
We are also conditioned through evolution to respond to certain stimuli. Light, loud noises, etc. are all examples. They can be visual, audio, or both.
There has to be some effort made to do something with the visual stimuli picked up and processed within the short term memory in order for it to progress into the encoding stage where it moves into WORKING MEMORY
Input one way
two way exchange
Central Executive
This is a more debatable part of memory. It is argued that there is some sort of overarching organiser to the modal model. The purpose of this is to influence and control the process of memory and information processing.

It is argued that it has different influences at the different stages of memory.
Any mental activity your are doing = information processing. e.g.
problem solving
learning, etc.

They all involve some form of activity. The more complex the task the greater the mental activity, the more that memory is involved.
Modal Model of Memory
Governed by 4 assumptions:
mental activity is processed in memory.
memory is functionally separate
capacity is limited (biological restriction)
may be effortful or automatic
Effortful processing = deliberate focus of attention (also called controlled processing)

Automatic processing = no intentional effort. Occurs without awareness or choice
The modal model makes some assumptions about the process of learning and memory.
implies all learning/memory is sequential
doesn't highlight that all 3 systems can process simultaneously.
The comaprison with computer hardware is a little off because computers are more predictable
you "prune" your knowledge in a way that the computer doesn't automatically do.
The other key point is that the 3 memory types do not correspond with singular physical spaces in the brain. The activity that these three memory centres do is carried out by a number of components in the brain, each with their own functions and contributions.

It is an overall image that we try to represent with the model.
Sensation + Storage + Perception =
The actual input from the senses. This is information that is being processed and interpreted in the sensory memory.
Of all 3 memory types Sensory has the least storage capacity. Information is only stored for 1/2 a second if it's visual. This extends to 3 seconds if it is audio only.

This is due to the different parts of the brain that handle this processing and their individual capacities.
Perception of information can be altered by the context of the situation.

It can also be altered by what is already in Long Term Memory (LTM).
an allocation of cognitive resources to a particular object or problem at hand.
It is the process by which we keep information in working memory
we naturally attend to things that are novel, or strong stimuli (e.g. explosions)
we also use selective attention - concentration on chosen stimuli, discarding useless information
Attention ability develops over time
Sustain attention over time
Ignore distractions
Guide attention/strategy use
Maintaining attention through: CIRCULARITY
coming back to the same point time and time again!
It continues to refresh the idea in working memory and see that it is being attended to.
BLUES CLUES - used circularity by screening the same episode of the show each day, at the same time, for a whole week.
Is like computer RAM. It does all of the "thinking" - calculations, rendering, etc.

It still draws on the HDD (or LTM in the brain's case) but the LTM is an end state for information.

Just like RAM if you don't 'save' what you are working on it's lost.
WM has a limit of about 20-30 seconds. If information isn't refreshed then it falls out of WM
Refreshing your WM is a process of rehearsal, organisation, or other memory technique
It has a limited capacity of about 7(+/-2) chunks of information.
The more we learn and can draw from LTM the more sophisticated these "chunks" can be.
The term refers to the degree that chunks of information interact in an idea or concept.
Low Element Interactivity
- letters that form words
- symbols in a sequence
- numbers in a phone number
High Element Interactivity
- grammar in sentences
- numbers in an equation
- muscular movement systems
how the information is presented to students affects how much of a load it is on their WM to process
Element Interactivity
Difficulty in remembering
Something can have low element interactivity but be very taxing on memory.
Think about the PERIODIC TABLE... lots of elements to "remember" and inherently not much interactivity between them.
you have to do something with it to make it memorable!
Cognitive Load Theory
Based on the premise that we have a limited WM. If our WM is exceeded then nothing is coded to our LTM. So we need to be careful about how much information is being presented, and how this information is presented.

It can be split into 3 main different types of CogLoad.
cognitive load
the inherent amount of processing, or work, required to understand to interpret a concept or idea

cognitive load
generated by instructional design. It is the load of interpreting how the information in a concept or idea is presented.

e.g. interpreting a page of text or a diagram of key ideas
cognitive load
is that load devoted to the processing, construction and automation of schemas.
Role of expertise (prior knowledge) affects element interaction determining if it is lower or higher
A system for permanently storing, managing, and retrieving information for later use
Accessible days, months, or years later
Unlimited capacity (?)
Interacts with WM
Long Term Memory
Declarative Knowledge
Procedural Knowledge
“Knowing that”
Facts and concepts
Explicit recall - can be automatic or deliberate
“Knowing how”
Skills and abilities
Habits, conditioning
Implicit recall / influence - is automatic
Semantic Memory
General knowledge
Facts, concepts
Independent of context
Episodic Memory
Personal experiences
Sometimes referred to as autobiographical memory
Temporally specific
Contextually specific
"things that you know about things"
"things that happened to you that you know about"
Scripts are expectations of how certain events play out. They're based on our expectations of events.

Ordering at a restaurant, starting a car, paying using EFTPOS. All of these are common events that we develop expectations of.

They are a specific type of SCHEMATA
The ‘cognitive building blocks’ of LTM

Organised structures that capture knowledge and expectations of some aspect of the world

Abstract knowledge structures that organise vast amount of information
modified via
The process of incorporating new information into an existing schemata
The process of adjusting existing schemata based on the introduction of new information.
Generalised and stereotypical
personal, time context specific
Consequentially ...
Schemata must be active for
of that concept to occur

It determines the
of 'new' information being presented

Guides the
of new information being presented
3 types of information is encoded
3 types of information is encoded
Encoding to WM is usually Acoustic (Baddeley, 1966)
Encoding to LTM is usually Semantic (Baddeley, 1966)
Brewer (1977) found that we recall what is encoded to LTM, not the actual stimuli
3-6 months:
Evidence of LTM
2-4 years: Autobiographical memory emerges
Across childhood:
rapid knowledge development
Memory development
Adults don’t remember life before 3 to 4 yrs of age

This is around the time that you start to develop the idea of a cognitive self.

You also can't recall different types of information for events that you didn't experience that event in.

i.e. becoming aware of language means that memories prior to that will not have ANY semantic information encoded.
Memory is fallible. In the retrieval process we start to see this is where the system can "fall down"
Experts have been found to have;
Large schemata for that knowledge
Automatic retrieval of that knowledge
No better general memory skills than novices

Natural talent is no guarantee of expertise. It can help but.
Transforming an experience into a durable memory trace (Davachi, 2008)
Getting information in (Myers, 1998)
Transforming an experience into a durable memory trace (Davachi, 2008)Getting information in (Myers, 1998)
How knowledge is constructed
How well knowledge is stored
How easily knowledge is retrieved
How knowledge is constructed
How well knowledge is stored
How easily knowledge is retrieved
Deeper encoding focuses on meaning
Semantic coding
e.g. rework an essay into your own words

Deeper processing results in better recall
Shallower encoding focuses on superficial features
Perceptual (visual, auditory) coding
e.g. underlining words in a passage of text
but there is no independent way to measure "depth"
Distinctiveness of encoding
Elaborative processing
these are some of the suggested ways to define depth
Further defined as difficulty of decision making
Difficult decisions = well recalled
e.g. Bloom's Taxonomy
Elaboration: extending material in various ways
Drawing connections with other content
Using examples and detail
Integrating multiple sources

Strong research support: elaborative = memorable
Memory Strategies
Memory Strategies
Best for simple information or low element interactivity
Direct recycling
Maintains info in consciousness
Often short term: may not reach LTM
Spontaneous use: age 8
Deeper encoding for storage in LTM
e.g. imagery- create image for semantic material
e.g. mnemonics - Encoding ‘tricks’ to-be-learnt info paired with known info

Emerges slowly across age
Age 4: spontaneously ‘fill in gaps’
Age 11: deliberate use emerges
Help recall of simple material
Once taught, can be applied to different material

Limited to simple material
(May result in shallow encoding of complex material)
Teachers must make these limitations clear
Categorisation, heirarchical order, concept mapping...

Age estimates vary:
Infant begin categorising
Spontaneous organisation for recall from age 4
Deliberate orgsnisation increases through school
The practice effect
Novel information must be processed effortfully

The generation effect
Self-generated better recalled
than provided material
Elaborative and distinctive?
Implications: test yourself, fill in gaps, rework material

The spacing effect
The longer the gap between practices, the better the recall
Implications: spaced study > cramming (evolutionary?)
Characteristics of good Encoding

identify information already present

Prompted Recall

some memory cues provided

Free Recall
- little or no memory cues provided
More cuing = better recall
specificity found for:
Locations and times of day
Types of task
Altered states of consciousness

better when conditions match those at encoding
Contextual cues present
Cues activate right schemata
information never reached LTM :encoding failure
discarded information
information is selectively pruned
OR physical memory decay
Retrieval Failure
Information ‘there’ but inaccessible: tip of tongue
Interference from new information
Memory too weak for retrieval task (give extra cues)

Reconstructive nature of memory
Key points recalled but general knowledge fills gaps
Susceptible to errors, ‘bending’ of facts
Forgotten info relearned faster than new info
e.g. relearning a language

i.e. info still stored in LTM, just inaccessible
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