Sensory Memory

by Shelby Klinedinst


Sensory Memory is the ability to retain impressions of sensory (sight, sound, smell, taste, touch) information after the original stimuli has ended.

In relation to...

Unlike Short-Term Memories and Long-Term Memories, Sensory Memories are very brief lasting only 1/4 to 3 seconds. They begin the storage of Short-Term Memories by transferring new information.
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Lasting Impression

Sensory Memory plays an important role in storing information in short-term memory. However, Sensory Memories disappear almost instantaneously. Our brain stores only vital pieces of information that could be useful later and makes the decision whether or not to store it in our short-term memory.

George Sperling

George Sperling believed that the visual aspect of sensory memory is related to iconic memory because it's a brief image. In 1960 he tested this by showing a group of participants 12 letters for a 1/20th of a second. When asked one of the three rows of letters participants could give some letters but could not remember them all. He then showed the same picture again but removed it and asked for letters again. The participants could then give a full row of letters. The experiment confirmed his belief that we have iconic memories.

Iconic, Echoic, Haptic

Because sensory memory is created by environmental factors. Echoic (sound), Iconic (sight), and Haptic (touch) memories are directly related and could be stored in later memories. A stimuli can be ignored and forgotten or perceived and remembered briefly.


Remembering and Judging. (n.d.). Retrieved October 10, 2015, from

Hockenbury, D., & Hockenbury, S. (2008). Discovering psychology (6th ed.). New York: Worth.