Although there is little scientific understanding or evidence of the human memory, there are some widely agreed upon ideas about the subject matter. The controversies on different theories are diverse but some of the uniform findings show that human memory is storage as well as a processing organ.
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The main controversies concerns the time required to retrieve information stored in memory and accessibility of this information. In other words, how long can the information last in memory before becoming inaccessible?
The two controversies determine the classification of memory depending on the form of information processing that occurs in the brain and the different types of memories in relation to the accessibility.
Different Concepts of Memory
Working memory is the sensory information store that depends on various sensory organs such as the eyes or ears. The received information either captures attention or becomes immediately ignored, in the latter case, it becomes obsolete and does not last for long enough before being masked by newer information.
Attention means that the brain protects the information from other interferences since it is important to subject it to higher-level thoughts in search of meaning. Whenever information is subjected to such form of processing, then it means it has to be committed to working memory.
Short-term memory is a limited store for information that becomes inaccessible after a brief interval mainly due to interference associable to delivery of new information. The information may not necessary be lost or forgotten but distorted in which case a person must recall similar but un-identical set of new information.
The maintenance rehearsals are procedures that assist to maintain information in the memory for longer periods. The rehearsals may involve frequent mental or sub-vocal repetition procedures that cause the information to become committed to the long-term memory for better and more enduring accessibility (Cansino et al, 2002).
According to Cansino et al, rehearsal mechanism in the aim of retaining information in long-term memory is not a very efficient system compared to elaborative rehearsal mechanism (2002).
Large quantities of information are mainly committed to long-term memory for enduring storage. This is a storage area that deals with large and different types of commitments such as events, perceptual skills, knowledge, and facts.
Most of the factors that affect accessibility of information from the memory include conditioning of memory during storage, the frequency of usage, similarity between the new information in relation to what already exists and uniqueness of information.
Human memory undergoes various logical tests without clear importance or pre-defined goal. This paper considers a simple memory test performed on ten people of random pick, which involves viewing of a wide range of one thousand detailed pictures for three seconds each.
The test therefore was a fifty minutes observation for each person. The aim was to subject one to remembering the exact object whenever presented with a couple of images, to pick the observed object.
The test mainly concerns the short-term or temporary memory that requires keen attention and ability to handle information in a comprehensible manner. After viewing all the pictures each for 3 seconds, the participant had to choose the exact image they had seen, from a group of three almost similar pictures.
Identification of the main picture that had been previously shown was the test for ability to remember. For instance, a cup with half-full liquid would be accompanied by similar cups having same liquids but at different levels.
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Although most people had difficulties in identifying four simultaneous objects correctly, there was evident use of strategies to enhance memory, for instance linking the observed pictures to associable items in memory. However, the conclusion was that it is possible to train and thus improve human memory.
When human beings subject memory to its full function, the capability extends to greater ability than expectation. In relation to the conducted memory test, most participant were able to determine familiar pictures easily, despite of the complexity of the task for instance items like bread, a TV remote controller or a dollar note.
Contrary, abstract images were hardly remembered. Inline with instrumental/operant conditioning, when subjected to a form of reward a person’s ability to remember is boosted since the reward act as a stimulus (Cansino et al, 2002). The results of the memory test were positively amazing since an average of 85% was obtained among all participants.
Even though 10 participants seem to be a low sample group to represent a general view, the closeness of the results is a clear indication of accuracy of the test. The short-term memory is arguably about the accuracy on keenness and active participation in order to encode specific details in memory correctly.
A good example of active participation would involve the attempts to remember certain identification such as someone’s birthday. Linking the date to something else, particularly something, that one is able to remember concerning the day strengthens the memory.
Process of Encoding in and retrieval from Memory
Encoding and retrieval of information from memory are two actions that have some intricate connection. They have reference to the procedure of committing information to and from short-term or main/long-term memory respectively.
The ability to link new to existing information to enhance better meaning depends on the degree of linking the information. Encoding therefore has high dependence on pictorial as well as thoughtful representation of information.
Considering the sample ‘memory test’, most people were able to remember majority of the pictures due to ability to relate them to information in existing memory. Majority of the objects on pictures also had day-to-day applications. Encoding mainly assists to commit information to long-term memory through neural networks.
Variables Associated With Encoding and Retrieval of Information
Retrieval involves deduction of existing information from memory. Existing knowledge is the basis for all new information, and therefore its retrieval has some effect on processing of new information.
Some of the main strategies associates with both encoding and retrieval include intentionality, repetitiveness, color cryptography and use of mnemonics. Intentionality is the process of deliberately directing need to specific work content.
There is great controversy over the connection between the long-term and working memory. Most scientific discoveries consent that all information is stored in memory but differ on the process of accessing due to difference of opinion over storage type and retrieval procedures.
According to Cansino et al, the information that a human being receives is immediately encoded into the long-term memory but the encoding may fail to be distinctive enough to support comprehensible retrieval whenever required (2002).
Cansino, S., Maquet, P. Dolan, R.J. & Rugg, M. D. (2002). Brain Activity Underlying Encoding and Retrieval of Source Memory. Oxford Journal of Life science and Medicine. 12(10). 1048-1056. Retrieved from https://academic.oup.com/cercor/article/12/10/1048/268396