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Sensory Memory

 

Explanations > Memory > Sensory Memory

Description | Discussion | So what?

 

Description

Have you ever been in a room with people, heard your name spoken and then also realized that you can recall what was said just before your name was spoken, even though you were not paying attention to this? You might even realize that you saw the person who was speaking, even though you were not directly looking at them.

Or has somebody said something when you were not listening, you then said 'What did you say?' and simultaneously realize that you already know what they said?

Sensory memory is a very short-term buffer where senses store what they have received before any cognitive processing occurs.

Discussion

Short-term sensory memory is a useful tool that allows us to pay attention to one thing whilst also being aware and able to process events in the wider surroundings after something of interest has happened.

Iconic store

Iconic store is where visual images are kept for a short period. It is important for our experiences as it helps us integrate our visual experience.

Sperling (1960) presented three rows of four letters to subjects for 50 milliseconds. they were able to report four or five letters, but knew that there were many more. With further experimentation, he found that this visual memory lasted for about half a second.

Echoic store

Echoic store is where auditory senses are kept for a short period. Estimate of the duration of echoic memory range from 250 milliseconds up to a few seconds.

Haptic store

The haptic store in sensory memory retains physical senses of touch and internal muscle tensions.

So what?

If you hear or see a significant cue, be very quick at scanning your sensory store, lest it slips quickly away.

See also

Sperling G. (1960). The information available in brief visual presentations, Psychological Monographs, 74, 1-29

 

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