Memory and Digit Span Experiment among Psychology Students in Lagos State, Nigeria

By Adewuyi, Temitayo Deborah O; Ayenibiowo, Kehinde O | Ife Psychologia, March 2012 | Go to article overview

Memory and Digit Span Experiment among Psychology Students in Lagos State, Nigeria


Adewuyi, Temitayo Deborah O, Ayenibiowo, Kehinde O, Ife Psychologia


Abstract

The study was an experiment that investigated shortterm memory and digit span among the psychology students in a federal and state university in Lagos State, Nigeria. Memory is the process involved in retaining; retrieving and using information about stimuli, images, events, ideas and skills after original information was no longer present. A total of forty-two students participated in the study. Twenty-one of them were males while the remaining were females. They were given digit span to memorized and vocalised between two to four seconds. T-independent test was used to analysis the two hypotheses formulated for this study. The result showed that there was no gender difference in recall of digit span numbers and also there was a significant difference in the recall of digit span numbers between the participants from the two universities.

Key Words: Memory, Digit Span and Psychology Students.

Introduction

Memory is the process involved in retaining, retrieving and using information about stimuli, images, events, ideas and skills after original information is no longer present. Memory is most often defined as "an internal record or representation of the prior event or experience" (Purdy, Markham, Schwartz, & Gordon, 2001). It is also a set of mental processes that receives, encodes, stores, organises, alters, and retrieves information over time. Traditional studies of memory began in the fields of philosophy, including techniques of artificially enhancing the memory. The late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries put memory within the paradigms of cognitive psychology. In recent decades, it has become one of the principal pillars of a branch of science called cognitive neuroscience, an interdisciplinary link between cognitive psychology and neuroscience (Cowan, 2001). There are three traditional stages of memory: sensory memory, short term memory and long term memory.

The ability to look at an item, and remember what it looked like with just a second of observation, or memorisation, is an example of sensory memory. The duration of sensory memory varies according to the specific sense. For visual information, known as iconic memory, the visual icon (or image) lasts about one-half of a second. Auditory information (what we hear) is held in sensory memory about the same length of time as visual information, one-quarter of a second, but a weaker "echo," or echoic memory, can last up to 2 to 4 seconds (Lu, Williamson, & Kaufman, 1992). The first experiments exploring this form of sensory memory were conducted by Sperling (1960) using the "partial report paradigm." Subjects were presented with a grid of 12 letters, arranged into three rows of 4. After a brief presentation, subjects were then played either a high, medium or low tone, cuing them which of the rows to report. Based on these partial report experiments, Sperling was able to show that the capacity of sensory memory was approximately 12 items, but that it degraded very quickly (within a few hundred milliseconds). Because this form of memory degrades so quickly, participants would see the display, but be unable to report all of the items (12 in the "whole report" procedure) before they decayed.

Why Sensory Memory?

* We need to integrate information across time and space.

* We need to keep a brief record in order to select important stimuli for further processing (e.g. selective attention).

* May provide stability to visual world despite constant eye movement.

Short-term memory (or "primary" or "active memory") is the capacity for holding a small amount of information in mind in an active, readily available state for a short period of time. The duration of short-term memory (when rehearsal or active maintenance is prevented) is believed to be in the order of seconds. Estimates of short-term memory capacity limits vary from about 4 to about 9 items, depending upon the experimental design used to estimate capacity. …

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