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Posted on May 4th, 2014, by

Study of Iconic Memory as a Function of Retrieval Delay Time and Information Organization with Following Retrieval in Memory Using Hierarchical Categorized Word Lists

Human perception and cognition are important concepts in psychology, which allow researchers to create models of human thinking and devise techniques for enhanced memorizing and recalling information. An important concept in the research of perception and cognition is iconic memory. Iconic memory (or icon) in denotes visual persistence of visual image in human memory until the image is not visible any more (St. James, Schneider & Eschman, 2005). Key questions for investigating iconic memory were the capacity of the icon, and the period for which the icon is stored in memory. Early investigations of iconic memory supposed that since participants were able to recall only 4-5 letters of a matrix of letters shown to them, it happened due to low capacity of iconic memory (St. James, Schneider & Eschman, 2005). However, Sperling’s experiment using partial reporting technique proved that the capacity of iconic memory was large, but the icon quickly vanished from the memory (Sperling, 1960). Sperling also identified that icon duration can be increased using bright stimuli and dark-adaptation of participants (Sperling, 1960). Further researchers have also found out that the capacity of iconic memory was at least 9 items, and its mean duration ”“ 250 ms (Averbach & Coriell, 1961).

Perceived information is then recalled in memory, and second important topic in perception and cognition research is the organization in memory, which has a significant effect on information encoding and retrieval. The study of Bower, Clark, Lesgold and Winzenz (1969) explored the effects of hierarchical organization of word lists on their memory recall, and have identified that recall was by 2-3 times better for hierarchic word lists; the researchers have also identified that the effect is similar for both conceptual and associative hierarchies, and increased the speed of recall for words being part of the hierarchy (Bower, Clark, Lesgold & Winzenz, 1969).

The mechanisms of iconic memory, selective attention mechanisms and mechanisms of organizing information in memory allow human beings to acquire information from the sense organs, filter out relevant information, organize it and recall when necessary. Detailed research of these mechanisms and their effects on perception of information are important for cognitive sciences and for interdisciplinary research like cybernetics and artificial intelligence spheres. The goal of this research is to perform two experiments examining iconic memory and information organization in memory in settings different from the original experiments.

The experiment on iconic memory provides a more diverse choice of letters to the participants compared to original Sperling’s experiment, which allows to reduce the effect of “guessing”¯ mentioned by Sperling as one of the factors affecting the measurement of the dependent variable (Sperling, 1960). The experiment on organization in memory compares two recalls based on the same organization of lists, and is aimed to study the effect of list organization on repeated memory recall and overall recall quality.

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