Memory and Learning and Cognitive Psychology Research Paper

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Learning and Cognitive Psychology Related to Memory

Memory has control over everything that an individual does and is a part of cognitive psychology that deals with all the human behavior and mental processes. It is divided into different categories with each of them performing their particular functions. The paper investigates the different types of memories and their purpose as each one plays its part in keeping the memory part of the brain functioning. The nature, maintenance, retrieval and capacity of memory are also discussed along with the different factors that influence it. The paper also discusses the application of TBRS model on the working memory, which leads to the prediction that maintenance activities should postpone concurrent processing.


Memory is what drives our everyday life, makes us relate to or recollect things from the past and in many ways defines our behavior. We take it for granted as the effort required to put it to work is not yet understood fully and that does not affect is working. It is only when we forget something that its prominence is recognized. Cognitive Psychology revolves around memory. It is the branch that deals with the human behavior and its relation to mental processes. The main types of memory categories are the sensory memory, working memory and the long-term memory (Saxton, 2014).

Sensory memory can be attributed to the five senses we are endowed with. They send stimuli to our brains that we experience for a very short time. And it is almost a gift that this part of the memory has the capacity to forget the stimuli soon enough. In the absence of its capacity to forget we would be more than confused with the multitudes of sensing that our organs keep on sending to our brain every moment.

Working memory is the part that processes the information coming to us by the way of stimuli. It processes only that part that we pay attention to. The amount of information that the memory can process and retain is very limited. This can be understood from the fact that we can only retain the amount of words spoken in two seconds. Slow talkers will utter lesser number of words in those two seconds that the working memory can cope with, than those who talk faster. Another way of understanding working memory is that we would be putting our working memory to work when memorizing a phone number (Saxton, 2014).

The Nature of Retrieval Organization

It has been perceived in cognitive theories, that in order to have a better and longer recall, information would be broken down to smaller, inter-related pieces and that they could also be related to objects with similar connotations. Each individual could have his own method of clustering memory. It is worthwhile to know that this process of chunks of information being processed by establishing its relativity to some concept or idea already resident is known as subjective organization ((Gates, 1917; Tulving, 1962). The basic idea is to ease storage and thereby retrieval for a longer period of time.

Shared memory has been studied in context of connection between individual and group memory, and retrieval organization has been found to play the major role in shared memory.

The duration for which the brain can store information is fully dependent on how well it has been organized (Mulligan, 2005; Puff, 1979; Zaromb & Roediger, 2010; see also Congleton & Rajaram, 2012; Luhmann, Congleton, Zhou, & Rajaram, 2014). It has been ascertained that it is easier to retrieve chunked information bits than that has not been clustered (Miller, 1956; Zaromb & Roediger, 2010; see also Congleton & Rajaram, 2012).

In a group, what we call as shared memory, the organization and retrieval efficiency of each member affects the overall group processes. This same principle applies to both, short-term as well as long-term memory activity and recall (Congleton & Rajaram, 2011).

This has brought to fore a very important turn in understanding of organization and retrieval processes with respect to collaborative actions that need to be carried out in a group. The organization and chunking of memory of a group is only as good as each and every individual member's ability to efficiently cluster and process information. That being said, it becomes all the more critical to understand group level retrieval organization and its relation to the duration and extent to which shared memories are formed and remain intact (Congleton & Rajaram, 2014).

The Storage Capacity of Working Memory

Working memory is the part that processes information and hence keeps the information with it only for the duration that is required for processing. Obviously working memory is short-term memory. It has been experimentally estimated that at the most, seven items can be held by the working memory simultaneously (Miller, 1956).

Additional information regarding this kind of memory is that verbal memory is defined by its phonological length. A longer word will occupy a larger part of working memory (Baddeley, Thomson, & Buchanan, 1975; Schweickert & Boruff, 1986). It is an indicator to the fact that words are stored phonetically in our brain; at least that they are clustered according to phonetic denotations. It would then follow that time of spoken word rather than number of words spoken should be a measure of our verbal retention capacity in the working memory. (Vogel, Woodman, & Luck, 2001).

Brener in 1940, tried to estimate working memory capacity by presenting participants with slides of different colors, in succession, one after the other. The participants were then required to recall the colors in the order that they appeared. Typically seven colors could be remembered by people. That is what we have arrived at even in modern investigations; seven words, (verbal memory component) can be remembered immediately.

In a more recent and very similar experiment, Schweickert & Boruff, 1986, came to the same conclusion that had been arrived at by Brener. The pertinent point here is that both the experiments required the participants to tell the names of the colors and this meant that verbal working memory was put into action in addition to visual memory. It has thus become difficult to rule out contributions of verbal memory in the experiments conducted to measure solely visual memory (Vogel, Woodman, & Luck, 2001)

Sperling is credited with first trying to conduct experiment to appropriate visual working memory capacity in 1960. Participants were asked to write down alphanumeric characters displayed to them briefly. The participants were able to put down on paper were only four to five. The results are open to discussion. One, because the numbers and letters used in this experiment were probably coded visually as well as verbally. The measured performance was then in most probability, a mix of visual and verbal working memory components. Secondly, it must be noted that the participants had to translate into writing what they had seen or heard. This involves two steps. On these two counts the experiments' result can't be concluded as conclusive or definite, but nonetheless they were properly designed efforts to measure working memory capacity.

The Impact of Maintenance on Processing

The TBRS model suggests that the central level processing is of a sequential nature. Attentional refreshing is not possible when there is occurrence of new stimuli and the working memory is busy processing new incoming information. The reverse is also true. New incoming information by way of events or attention is needed to wait for the want of refreshing older information processes' occupation by the central system. Concurrent activities of maintenance and processing new information are invariably done one at a time the other process being postponed as the one being processed is already being given treatment at the cost of other. This is how temporary memory loss is explained. Postponement of maintenance can result, hence in memory loss. That may however be temporary in nature. It is also important to know that qualitatively resident memory doesn't suffer as a result. Also, that during postponement of new stimuli being given a lesser attention as the system is in maintenance mode, the information, may still be processed if the stimuli persist and exist after the maintenance is over.

This model of processing and maintenance proposed by the TBRS theory suggests by its very nature that the maintenance cede its space to new information processing in case of concurrent eventuality. Although attention-based maintenance activities had originally been thought of as rethinking only of the presently-activated part (Raye, Johnson, Mitchell, Reeder, & Greene, 2002), new research studies have shown that attentional refreshing proceeds in a cumulative fashion, starting from the initial list-part as well as proceeding in frontward sequence until the end (Loaiza & McCabe, 2012; McCabe, 2008).since attention-based maintenance is a consequential happening, it allows room for the premise that its capacity will only increase with increase in the number of events seeking attention. The curve thus formed should be a valid indicator of the time taken to process each occurrence of attentional focusing. In addition, since both, maintenance and…

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