Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Information Processing Theory

     Information Processing Theory explains acquisition of knowledge in a step-by-step manner. Sometimes, this theory is said to be analogous to how a computer works. What is good about this theory is its being organized in presenting how information comes to our mind. It gives us a picture or a diagram about how we learn things and processes that take place inside our head.

The Three Primary Processes
I. Encoding. This when the information in our environment is being sensed, perceived or attended to.

II. Storage. After we encode the information, it is stored for either a short or long period of time depending on how we process or encode the said information.

III. Retrieval. The stored information is retrieved when needed in a certain task.

The Three Main Stages of Information Processing

1. Sensory Memory
          Human body perceives the environment through the senses. These sensations travel to the brain as electrical impulses or synapses. However, these electrical impulses or synapses must be translated in such a way that the brain can understand. This process is called transduction. Sensory Memory, the first main stage of information processing is affiliated with the transduction of energy.
In this stage, our mind holds the information for extremely brief period of time, since it receives a great amount of information more than it can hold or perceive. This is the reason why attention is very important on this stage. In order for the information to proceed to the next stage, that information must be attended to, or must be familiarized by the thinker. In addition, the duration is different among the senses, like auditory memory is more persistent than visual memory.

2. Short-Term Memory
          This memory is also called working memory because this refers to what we are thinking in a certain moment of time. This stage is created if we attend to an external information, a thought that popped in our head, or both.
The capacity of short term memory is said to be 7 plus-minus 2. This means that STM can hold 5 to 9 chunks or bits of information. The duration of the information while in the STM is dependent on how we organize or practice/repeat that information. Thus, organization and repetition, plus chunking or grouping, can help the information proceed to the next stage, that is the Long-Term Memory.

3. Long-Term Memory
          This is the final stage of memory wherein the information can be stored permanently until needed. Its capacity is unlimited and its duration is indefinite.

          Take note however that these stages are not like that of machines that once turned on, will do the process 1st step, 2nd step, 3rd step, so on and so forth. The processes are said to be controlled and regulated by an executive processing system, more popularly known as metacognition. Metacognition, in simpler terms, is "thinking about thinking"

photo credit: http://www.stephpalmer.co.uk/Cognitive/infomodel.gif


  1. you seem to have alot of discrepencies from the texts about G Miller STM holds 7 +/- 2 units long term memory has unlimited capacity WTF

  2. Yes I know that the commonly mentioned capacity is 7 +/- 2...However, some literature suggest that this 7 +/- 2 is not a dogma, because this varies depending on the population(e.g. college students, professionals, young children). I also agree to you that LTM has unlimited capacity and I stand corrected. This may be due to typographical error. Just get rid of "WTF" thing because your words speak of who you are. BTW, it's discrepAncies and I suppose this is just a typo as well...:)

  3. i don't know what you are talking about... all we need is the motor........ not the passive information....

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