Depth of Processing: An Alternative to the Multiprocess View (Part 1 of 3)

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The multiprocess view of human memory sees knowledge as represented in a number of interacting memory systems. For example according to the Atkinson and Shiffrin model, transfer of information from short-term to long-term memory depends only on the length of time it remains in short-term memory. Thus transfer is more likely to occur if the subject maintains the information in short-term memory through   rehearsal, It seems clear, however that one does many things to information in short-term memory beyond the simple rehearsal process suggested by Atkinson and Shiffrin.

First of all, information may be combined with other information to form more complex representations or codes a process sometimes referred to as elaboration. For example, on hearing the word   boat, you might encode it into shoe term memory. You might then   retrieve information held in long term memory and visualize a boat you had previously sailed on. Thus you would now have a representation of a word just spoken plus information of an earlier experience. The more you thought about boats. the more complex the representations you might develop.

Any of these may be encoded and available for retrieval later. The question arises: Is it simply the amount of time an item spends in short- term memory that increases its long-term retention, or is retention   enhanced by the multiplicity and complexity of representations that the item evokes as you continue to think about it? Craik and Lockhart (1972) proposed the latter view as an alternative to Atkinson and Shilfrin’s multiple memory system.

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