Sensory Memory act as a filter with each sense having its own brief storage system. Few if any will be remembered. Right now you are reading and this is a visual environmental stimuli. It appears to hold information for a fraction of a second and unless the information is unusual in anyway will not be recalled. However, if it is unusual it will be transferred to the short term memory store. Sensory memory therefore plays a vital role in filtering out the vast majority of useless stuff that impinges on our senses and enables us to focus our attention on important detail.
Aim: To explore the capacity of sensory memory.
Procedure: Participants were asked to look at a chart for 50 milliseconds and were asked to freely recall any letters they remembered. They could usually recall 4 or 5 items.
In the second stage participants were asked to recall single rows when particular tones were heard (high for top row, middle tone for the middle tow and low tone for the bottom).
Results: In the second condition, participants were able to recall on average 3 items from whichever row was cued by the tone.
Conclusions: Although in theory P's should remember more than the average 4 items, it is thought that the image of each item fades during the 50ms and the time it takes to report back recalled items. Therefore, sensory memory has a large capacity but most items fade before they can be processed.
Evaluation: Methodological: Lab high level of control, and replicable.
-items remain in sensory memory for a very brief period of time probably less than two seconds (or even less in the iconic store).
-Information is in a relatively unprocessed form. It’s passively registered in sensory memory, we can’t control what enters it but we can actively select certain items for transmission to short term memory by paying attention to them.
-There are different stores for different parts: iconic for visual, echoic for sound and haptic store for things we feel touch.