History And Memory Essay Introduction

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Module descriptions and information may vary between years This core module examines contemporary approaches to the past through a critical examination of current literature, case studies – mainly British, European and imperial/colonial – and fieldwork excursions in and around London.

History and Memory I and II are designed to explore the complex relationships between past and present, promote an understanding of the nature of history as a discipline, and investigate the social and public functions of historical research.

Conrad (1964) found that test subjects had more difficulty recalling collections of letters that were acoustically similar (e.g. Confusion with recalling acoustically similar letters rather than visually similar letters implies that the letters were encoded acoustically.

Conrad's (1964) study, however, deals with the encoding of written text; thus, while memory of written language may rely on acoustic components, generalisations to all forms of memory cannot be made.

This type of memory cannot be prolonged via rehearsal. Iconic memory is a fast decaying store of visual information; a type of sensory memory that briefly stores an image which has been perceived for a small duration.

Echoic memory is a fast decaying store of auditory information, another type of sensory memory that briefly stores sounds that have been perceived for short durations. Short-term memory allows recall for a period of several seconds to a minute without rehearsal. Miller (1956), when working at Bell Laboratories, conducted experiments showing that the store of short-term memory was 7±2 items (the title of his famous paper, "The magical number 7±2").

Modern estimates of the capacity of short-term memory are lower, typically of the order of 4–5 items; For example, in recalling a ten-digit telephone number, a person could chunk the digits into three groups: first, the area code (such as 123), then a three-digit chunk (456) and lastly a four-digit chunk (7890).

This method of remembering telephone numbers is far more effective than attempting to remember a string of 10 digits; this is because we are able to chunk the information into meaningful groups of numbers.

With very short presentations, participants often report that they seem to "see" more than they can actually report.

The first experiments exploring this form of sensory memory were precisely conducted by George Sperling (1963) using the "partial report paradigm".


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