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  • Take a second to think about everything you've done today.

  • You've taken in way more information than you

  • could possibly remember in detail-- things

  • you've seen, heard, smelled, touched, and tasted.

  • But somehow, some information gets

  • stored in a way that lets you access it later.

  • So what makes this process work?

  • Our brains are really complicated,

  • so scientists have come up with models

  • to represent how our brain takes in and makes sense

  • of information in our environment.

  • One of the most influential models

  • is the information-processing model,

  • which proposes that our brains are similar to computers--

  • we get input from the environment, process it,

  • and output decisions.

  • It's important to note that this model doesn't really

  • describe where things happen in the brain.

  • It's more conceptual.

  • The first stage, then, is getting the input,

  • which occurs in sensory memory.

  • This is sometimes also called the sensory register,

  • so if you hear that term, just know

  • it's the same thing as sensory memory.

  • And this is where you first interact

  • with the information in your environment.

  • It's a temporary register of all the information

  • your senses are taking in.

  • Even though you have five senses,

  • the two most studied in terms of memory are sight and sound.

  • So within sensory memory, you have

  • iconic memory, which is memory for what you see,

  • and echoic memory, which is memory for what you hear.

  • One of the really interesting things about sensory memory

  • is that it lasts a different amount of time

  • depending on the modality of the information coming in.

  • So visual information is incredibly vivid,

  • but it only lasts for less than half a second.

  • Auditory information.

  • on the other hand, lasts a little bit longer.

  • It lasts for about three or four seconds.

  • So if you've ever tuned out of a conversation

  • and your friend gets mad that you're not listening to them,

  • you can thank echoic memory for helping

  • you remember the last thing they actually said.

  • So we have a ton of information coming into our sensory memory,

  • but we can't possibly process all of it.

  • We decide what to pay attention to,

  • and that gets passed along into working memory to be processed.

  • Working memory is just whatever you're

  • thinking about right at this moment.

  • And it's also called short-term memory,

  • but we're going to stick with working memory

  • because that's what psychologists call it.

  • Working memory capacity works a little bit differently.

  • It's not defined by time so much as quantity.

  • Just remember the magic number seven.

  • Your working memory can hold about seven plus or minus

  • two pieces of information at a time, so about five to nine.

  • This does vary a little bit based

  • on how complicated those pieces of information

  • are, how old you are, that kind of thing.

  • But generally, it's right around seven.

  • And an interesting fact is that this is actually

  • why phone numbers started out as seven digits long.

  • It was determined that that's as many pieces of information

  • as a person could hold in mind without getting numbers

  • confused or mixing them up.

  • And just like sensory memory has different components

  • for different types of input, working memory

  • has different components to process

  • those distinct types of input.

  • Visual and spatial information, like pictures and maps,

  • are processed in the aptly-named visuo-spatial sketchpad,

  • while verbal information, meaning words and numbers,

  • are processed in the phonological loop.

  • Again, think of repeating a phone number

  • to yourself just long enough to type it in.

  • That's using your phonological loop.

  • Be careful here, though.

  • "Verbal information" means any words and numbers, so

  • words and numbers you heard that came from the echoic memory,

  • and words and numbers you saw that came from iconic memory.

  • So we've got a little bit of mix-and-match here.

  • Now, you might be thinking that sometimes you

  • need to process input place that has

  • verbal and visual information together,

  • such as a map with street names and landmarks.

  • In that case, you need someone to coordinate

  • the efforts of the visuo-spatial sketchpad

  • and the phonological loop.

  • So something called the central executive fills that role.

  • You can think of him kind of like a traffic cop who

  • directs the other components of working memory.

  • Once the central executive tells the visuo-spatial sketchpad

  • and the phonological loop to coordinate,

  • then they create an integrated representation

  • that gets stored in the episodic buffer, which

  • acts as a connector to long-term memory.

  • Long-term memory is the final stage

  • in the information processing model.

  • When stuff gets in here, it's like hitting the Save button

  • on your computer.

  • Unfortunately, our memories aren't quite as foolproof

  • as that.

  • It doesn't work perfectly.

  • But we can store a lot of information

  • in long-term memory.

  • Once again, there are different components

  • that specialize in different types of memories.

  • We have two main categories-- explicit, also called

  • declarative, and implicit, also called non-declarative.

  • As you can see, psychologists like

  • to give these things multiple names,

  • but fortunately, they can generally

  • be broken down into something that

  • makes sense, so don't get intimidated.

  • Explicit memories, for example, are facts or events

  • that you can clearly or explicitly describe.

  • So any time you take a vocabulary test or remember

  • the state capitals, you're using a specific type

  • of explicit memory called semantic memory.

  • And "semantic" just means "having to do with words,"

  • so you can think about it as being

  • able to remember simple facts like the meaning of words.

  • A second type of explicit memory is

  • called episodic memory, which is memory for events,

  • like your last birthday party.

  • Just like a TV episode is a sequence of events,

  • your episodic memory stores event-related memories.

  • While explicit memories are easy to define,

  • implicit memories are a little bit fuzzier.

  • They involve things you may not be able to articulate,

  • such as how to ride a bicycle.

  • You probably can't say clearly how much

  • pressure to put on the pedals or exactly how

  • to turn the handlebars.

  • But provided that you ever learned in the first place,

  • if you get on a bike and just do it,

  • you probably won't fall over.

  • Memories for procedures like riding a bike

  • are conveniently called "procedural memories."

  • The last type of implicit memory is

  • called priming, which means that previous experience influences

  • your current interpretation of an event.

  • For example, if I say the word "hair," what do you think of?

  • If you paid attention at the beginning of this video,

  • then you might have thought of "hair" as "H-A-R-E,"

  • meaning "rabbit," because you were primed with the bunny

  • picture at the beginning.

  • Your recent experience of seeing a bunny stayed in your memory

  • and influenced your interpretation of the word

  • that I said.

  • If you weren't paying attention, or if you've maybe had to push

  • your hair out of your face in the last few minutes,

  • then you might have thought of "hair" as "H-A-I-R,"

  • because it's generally a more common word.

  • With all these components of memory,

  • you might be wondering how much it can actually hold.

  • I think we've all had the feeling that we can't possibly

  • take in any more information, and while it might be true

  • but you can't process any more information at the moment,

  • unlike like the computer in front of you, as far as we

  • know, long-term memory capacity is unlimited.

  • So your brain never actually gets

  • too full for more information.

Take a second to think about everything you've done today.

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B1 US memory information working memory sensory term memory explicit

Information processing model: Sensory, working, and long term memory

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    PP posted on 2015/08/23
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