Discuss Explanations of Forgetting Essay

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Discuss explanations of forgetting. There are two different types of explanations as to how we forget in the STM. The two theories are the decay theory and the displacement theory. My controversial question is - what is the best explanation for forgetting and can we use the same explanations for the short-term memory (STM) and the long-term memory (LTM)? Forgetting in the STM – when we look back at the multi-store model it tells us that the capacity and the duration are limited. The capacity is 7+-2 and the duration is also a few seconds. Therefore information cannot stay in the short term indefinitely if it is not transferred to the LTM. One way to look at memory is through the memory trace. The memory trace is a physical representation of information in the brain. This theory suggests that this trace disappears or decays if it is not rehearsed. This explains why forgetfulness increases over time. Peterson & Peterson provides evidence for the decay theory using the nonsense trigram. His experiment showed that information decays within a few seconds if rehearsal is prevented. He gave his participants a list of words to remember, He found that their recall dropped from 80% after 3 seconds to 20% after 18 seconds. This research supports decay because information disappeared when the rehearsal was prevented. However this task lacks mundane realism because it does not relate to the real world. Also it may be possible that the information didn’t decay but displaced by the numbers that were being used to count down. We cannot be sure on Peterson & Peterson’s study as it does not give us clear evidence for decay and shows elements for supporting displacement theory. The second theory is displacement which explains that we forget because of a new set of information that physically overwrites the older set of information. This happens because the STM is limited
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