Alex Duarte 1/6/16

The Mystery of Memory, Documentary


  • Is the process of maintaining information over time
  • Memory is the means by which we draw on our past experiences in order to use this information in the present
  • Without a memory of the past we cannot operate in the present or think about the future

Memory Encoding

  • This is when information comes into our memory system (from sensory input), it needs to be changed into a form that the system can cope with, so that it can be stored
  • There are three main ways for information to be encoded:
  1. Visual (picture)
  2. Acoustic (sound)
  3. Semantic (meaning)

Memory Storage

  • This concerns the nature of memory stores, i.e. where the information is stored, how long the memory lasts for, how much can be stored at anytime and what kind of information is held
  • Most adults can store between 5 and 9 items in their short term memory
  • The capacity of Long Term Memory is thought to be unlimited
  • Information can only be stored for a brief duration in Short term memory (0-30 seconds), but Long term memory can last a lifetime

Memory Retrieval

  • This refers to getting information out of storage
  • If we can't remember something, that is because we are unable to retrieve it
  • Short term memory is stored and retrieved sequentially
  • Long term memory is stored and retrieved association

Criticisms of Memory Experiments

  • An experiment has high ecological validity if it's findings can be generalized, that is applied or extended, to settings outside the laboratory.
  • Often assumed that if an experiment is realistic then there is a greater likelihood that its findings can be generalized.
  • If it is not realistic then there is less likelihood that the findings can be generalized. In this case, the experiment will have low ecological validity.
  • Many experiments designed to investigate memory have been criticized for having low ecological validity.