Sternberg Search Experiment 4

Sternberg Search Experiment 4 - Sternberg Search Minimum...

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Sternberg Search Minimum time to complete this experiment: 20 minutes Many researchers of memory believe that there exists a short-term memory (STM) system that holds information for a few seconds. If the information in STM is not transferred to long term memory (LTM) for more permanent storage, it vanishes. As evidence of the existence of STM grew, researchers started to explore its properties. In a series of articles starting in 1966, Saul Sternberg developed an experimental approach to explore how information was retrieved from STM. The basic approach is simple. Subjects were shown a short (one to six items) list of numbers and asked to memorize them. After putting them to memory, a probe number was shown. The probe number was either one of the numbers in the list or a new number. The subject was to respond as quickly as possible, indicating whether the probe number was in the list or not. The reaction time of the subject should reflect the time spent searching STM to determine whether the probe number is part of the list. By varying the number of items in the list, Sternberg hypothesized that he could test several theories of STM search. For example, some neural network theories of memory suggest that every item in memory can be accessed simultaneously due to the parallel nature of search in these networks. If such a search took place in STM, one would expect the reaction times not to vary as the number of items (memory set size) increased. On the other hand, if memory search required consideration of each item in succession, the reaction times should increase with memory set size because the subject will, on average, have to search through more items. Sternberg's data was consistent with the successive (or serial) search. Sternberg found two additional properties that were interesting. First, reaction times grew
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This note was uploaded on 04/20/2008 for the course PSY 214 taught by Professor Bireta during the Spring '08 term at TCNJ.

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Sternberg Search Experiment 4 - Sternberg Search Minimum...

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