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Memory, Perception and Retrieval

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Using the text, Cognition: The Thinking Animal, the University Library, the Internet, and/or other resources, answer the following questions.

1. What is primary memory? What are the characteristics of primary memory?

2. What is the process of memory from perception to retrieval? What happens when the process is compromised?

3. Is it possible for memory retrieval to be unreliable? Why or why not? What factors may affect the reliability of one's memory?

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Solution Summary

In reference to aspect of memory, perception and retrieval, this solution responds to the the three questions thoroughly.

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1. What is primary memory? What are the characteristics of primary memory?

There are different theories about memory, which use different terms. Primary memory is also referred to as short term or working memory. However, working memory is sometimes considered the intermediate memory storage, while short term is the primary, while others use the two terms interchangeably (http://health.howstuffworks.com/amnesia1.htm.)

All information goes first into the primary memory (short-term memory). Human memory is often considered to have two parts: long-term memory, which is the repository of all our factual knowledge, and a short-term or working memory, which holds the information we are currently processing.

Short-term memory is memories which last for a few minutes. Unlike sensory memory, which is stored in the exact form it was experienced, short-term memory has received some processing; thus, "A" is stored not as a visual stimulus, but as an abstract concept of the letter "A". Short-term memory is of limited capacity, usually 5-9 items ("7-plus-or-minus-two"). Beyond this capacity, new information can "bump" out other items from short-term memory. So, when information is no longer needed, it is dropped from primary memory or rapidly decays. This is one form of forgetting. However, items in short term memory can be preserved indefinitely by rehearsal: e.g. by repeating the information over and over again. For instance, an example would be a seven-digit phone number, which is maintained in short-term memory by repetition until the number is dialed, and then fades from short-term memory once the conversation starts. However, repetition may also increase the probability that items in short-term memory will enter permanent storage in long-term memory (Source: http://www.memorylossonline.com/glossary/memory.html).

2. What is the process of memory from perception to retrieval? What happens when the process is compromised?

The process of perception begins by taking in information from the external world through the five senses (sight, taste, touch, sound and smell). However, our brain protects us from too much information. Imagine, for instance, with a perfect memory, where you could remember every single detail taken in by your five senses, it would be far too mentally overwhelming ?clearly too much information. For this reason, the brain sorts the information into short-term memory or long-term memory or discards it (decays).

There are necessary steps for a stimulus, or something we ...

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