Effects Of Short Term Memory Essay Research

Effects Of Short Term Memory Essay, Research Paper

Effect of Short Term Memory with

Visual Perception of Numbers

People have always wondered why they were able to remember certain things but forget others. After cramming for a test, why do you usually forget all the information over the next few days? When people cram for tests they have a tendency to use Type I rehearsal, which is repetition. Repetition is when you say the same thing over and over again until you memorize it. Type II rehearsal is elaboration. Elaboration is trying to connect what you are learning to something you already know. Elaboration is very effective. An example of Type II rehearsal would be the acronym of HOMES. HOMES could help a person remember the names of the Great Lakes – Huron, Ontario, Michigan, Erie, and Superior, by using the first letter of each of the great lakes name.

Given the overall importance of Short Term Memory, there could be factors that cause certain people to have a better short term memory than others. An experiment was done by Ronald B. Gillam to see if specific Language Impairment Children had the same memory capacity of average 16 year olds. Gilliam asserted:

each participant was tested at a level that was consistent with his or her auditory short term memory span. The study concluded that the specific Language Impairment Children have difficulty either retaining or using phonological codes and tests that require multiple mental operations (Gilliam et al, 1998, p.913).

Proper information such as that given by Gillam could suggest that there are many complications concerning memory. Even after studies and experiments have been done, there are too many questions dealing with Short Term Memory; however these experiments and studies help us learn more about Short Term Memory.

Short Term Memory is greatly complicated, but there are things to help improve memory. As stated before, you could use mnemonic devices like Homes. Another good way to ensure remembering pieces of information which is to study it long after you think you know it perfectly. This process is called overlearning. The more thoroughly you learn something, the more lasting the memory will be (Loftus, 1989, p. 394).

In the experiment, if the participant was given enough time between numbers, it would seem reasonable to think that the person could relate it to something. The hypothesis of the experiment would be that the participants would remember more during the five minute span than the one minute span, since there is more time before the next number is given.



Participants were drawn from an introductory class at Lycoming College who were picked randomly as a result of a class assignment. All of the five students were administered the same test. Of the five students, two were male, and three were female. Their ages ranged from 18-20.


The experiment was conducted in a small room in an introductory psychology class. The small room consisted of a table and two chairs. The experimenter was equipped with 10 index cards which had single numbers of 0,1,2,3,4,5,6,7,8, and 9. Each index card had its own number. The experimenter also had a stop watch. The assistant experimenter was equipped with a piece of paper and a pencil.


The five participants were instructed what the experiment was about. The five participants were picked one at a time and placed into a small room to start the experiment. The participants sat across from the experimenter. They were separated by the table. Once inside the room the experimenter and assistant experimenter told the participant what the experiment was for and they could stop participating in the experiment at any time and for any reason. The ten numbered index cards were laying face down on the table. The experimenter would give numbers from 0-98. The experimenter could not give the numbers of 11,22,33,44,55,66,77,88,and 99 for the reason that each index card had its own number.

The experimenter told the participant that he/she would give a number every 2 seconds for 1 minute. The assistant experimenter would write down the numbers the experimenter would show on a piece of paper. The experimenter never said the number, he just showed the number. After showing 30 numbers (1 minute), the participant would say all the numbers he or she remembered in the minute span. The assistant experimenter circled all the numbers the participant remembered. After giving all the numbers the participant remembered, the experimenter told the participant the experiment would break for a minute, and start giving 30 different numbers over a span of five minutes.

The subjects knew what the experiment was for, and the experimenter told them the results of the experiment. The results were compared to the other participants and by gender.


Results showed that, as predicted, the five minute span indicated to be more effective in short term memory. The males showed better results than the females. The overall average for the participants for the span of the one minute (one number every 2 seconds) was 10 out of 30 numbers remembered. For the five minute span, the average was 19 out of 30 remembered. The male average for the minute span was 11 out of 30 while the female average was approx. 9 out of 30. The males average for the five minute span was 20 out of 30 while the female average was approx. 18 out of 30 remembered. A study done by William F. Vitulli also showed in his experiment dealing with memory, men scored higher than women (Vitulli et al, 1996, p. 1331).


The results support the hypothesis that the participants memory significantly increased when they had more time between numbers. With knowing that all of the five participants increased greatly with the longer interval of times helps support the study by Albert Postma. Postma did a study that participants were given objects and numbers over 30 seconds and the participant were required to relocate the various subjects within the display merely to reconstruct positions, or to assign objects correctly to an equal number of pre-marked positions. Postman asserted the following:

two processes can be distinguished: one that underlies the construction of a positional map and one that assign objects to positions (Postma et al, 1996, p. 178).

Such a study suggests that for different components dealing with memory has specific functions in the brain. Consideration with Short Term Memory should be looked at more efficiently to show students and people that try to memorize for a test, or trying to remember a past event should be done correctly. Complications can result in short term memory which will be later dumped. In order to remember something efficiently we should relate it to something or even if you think you know it inside and out to spend more time with it. The importance of short term memory should be shared with the public. Suggestions given to help improve memory skills of people could improve the quality of learning.

During the experiment the experimenter was hoping that the participant would use a process called chunking. Chuncking is the process of reconfiguring items by grouping them on the basis of similarity or some other organizing principle, or by combining them into larger patterns based on information stored in long-term memory. An example of chunking would be 194119171865. Instead of remembering twelve separate numbers, a person could remember three important dates, 1941,1917, and 1865 (Zimbard and Gerrig, 1996, p. 353-4).

A participant in the experiment ended up doing exceptionally well in the five minute span. When the experimenter asked the participant how he/she was able to remember so many numbers, his/her reply was, “I related the numbers to something of my interest.”

Future research should be done about short term memory to compare and contrast why people are able to remember certain things but forget others. Short term memory has proven to be a worthless task in learning.

In this experiment regarding short term memory it is important to recognize that people have an easier time remembering things as a result of being able to relate it to something, or if they find it interesting. This conclusion shows that further research needs to be done in order to learn more about the brain and how it deals with memory. Short Term Memory is a broad topic that needs to be put into smaller sections. We need to support and understand and ask the questions why short term memory is so hard to comprehend. The experiment that was used has provided some information in dealing with short term memory, but we need to take steps in finding the causes of forgetting, and remembering.



Gillam, Ronald B., Cowan, Nelson., and Marler, Jeffrey A. (1998). Information Processing by school-age children with specific language impairment: Evidence from a modality effect paradigm. Journal of Speech, language, and Hearing Research, 41 (4), 913-926.

Loftus, Elizabeth, F. “Memory.” World Book Encyclopedia. 1989ed.

Postma, Alberta, De Haan, and Edward H.F. (1996). What was Where? Memory for object locations. Journal of Experimental Psychology: Human Experimental Psychology, 49, (1), 178-199.

Vitulli, William F., Laconsay, Kendra L.M., and Shepard, Heather A. (1996). Genzfeld perceptual field and gender effects on short term memory as a function of rate of digit presentation. Journal of Perceptual and Motor Skills, 82, 1331-1340.

Zimbardo, Philip G., and Gerrig, Richard J. (1996). Psychology and Life. New York, New York: Harper Collins Publishers Inc.