The Stages of Memory in Information Processing

Posted: January 21, 2014 in Instructional Design

After studying about the brain and information processing this week in class, I wanted to do additional research on how memory works in human beings.  I found a very good article on how memory works on the following website:  http://science.howstuffworks.com/life/inside-the-mind/human-brain/human-memory2.htm.  Richard C. Mohs, PhD provides simple and clear explanations of the different stages in the memory process including sensory memory, short term memory and long term memory.  According to Mohs (2007), the creation of a memory begins with its perception and the registration of information during perception only last a fraction of a second.  Sensory memory is the first stage in information processing it allows a perception such as a visual pattern, a sound, or a touch to linger for a brief moment (Mohs, 2007).    Mohs (2007) explains the limited capacity of short-term memory and that it only holds seven items for no more than 20 or 30 seconds at a time.  Mohs (2007) describes how information is transferred from short-term memory into long-term memory.  Information can be retained in long-term memory if it is repeated or used.

I found an additional online resource that provides a very good summary of cognitive information processing:  http://expertlearners.com/cip_theory.php.  This article also describes the three stages of memory, however, additional information regarding the processes that keep information alive or help transfer it from one memory state to the next is also explained.   In Cognitive Information Processing Theory (2011), selective attention, maintenance rehearsal, encoding, and retrieval is described:

  • Selective attention is the learner’s ability to select and process certain information while simultaneously ignoring other information.
  • Maintenance rehearsal refers to the repetition of information in order to maintain it in short term memory.
  • Encoding refers to the process of relating incoming information to concepts and ideas already in memory in such a way that the new material is more memorable.
  • The retrieval process in long term memory involves bringing to mind previously learned information, to either (a) understand some new input or (b) make a response. Making a response may involve either recall or recognition.

References:

Cognitive Information Processing Theory. (2011). —expertlearners.com. Retrieved from http://expertlearners.com/cip_theory.php

Mohs, P. R. (2007). How Human Memory Works. HowStuffWorks. Retrieved from http://science.howstuffworks.com/life/inside-the-mind/human-brain/human-memory2.htm

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