Multi-Store Model of Memory: Meaning And Significance

The Multi-Store Theory of Memory, created by Atkinson and Shiffrin, outlines how information moves between sensory information, working memory, and long-term memory. Sensory data is temporarily retained in the SR before being lost after around 500 milliseconds. It is a device property; thus, it is stored in the same fashion as the modality in which it was first entered. However, if it is paid attention to, perceptual data is transferred to short-term memory, temporarily stored and processed visually, aurally, or less often cognitively. The typical STM is assumed to hold between 5 and 9 elements for 30 seconds. 'Chunking' is a method for increasing this storage space. The rehearsal loop aids in consolidating knowledge from short-term memory (STM) into long-term memory (LTM), which is mostly linguistically encoded. Data may be saved and recovered indefinitely, and its capacity seems almost limitless.

Explaining the Multi-Store Model of Memory

The model of memories describes the memory process. Atkinson and Shiffrin were the first to define the multiple numbers of co approach, albeit the concept of different memory stores had been around for some time. According to William Henry, there are two types of memory: primary, or what is kept temporarily in conscious thought, and secondary, or what is kept indefinitely but subconsciously. Different memory storage is now considered more efficient, although this was not always the case. Below is a synopsis of the arguments in favor of differentiating long-term and short-term stocks. Along with primary and secondary information, which had already been proposed, Atkinson with Shiffrin added perceptual registers and several regulatory systems to manage memory transmission.

Understanding the Multi-Store Model of Memory


  • A substantial amount of research supports the existence of separate STM and LTM processes.

  • Semantic encoding of recollections in the LTM makes much sense; for example, one could remember the main point of a political expression rather than every word.

  • The MSM was an early theory of memory that paved the way for other, more recent theories like the Working Memory Theory.


  • Studies on STM duration that use stimuli that are not relevant to the actual world lack validity.

  • Research shows various short- and long-term remembering stores, suggesting that the concept may be simplified.

  • Semantic encoding of memory recall, such as knowing how and where to ride a bike because of its meaning, makes little sense.

  • Since researchers have not been able to estimate LTM's capacity precisely, it is merely presumed that it is infinite.

Sensory memory in Multi-Store Model of Memory

Atkinson and Shiffrin's concept of "sensory registers" refers to the temporary storage of information about sensory input. While "sensory registration" or "information processing" is often used to refer to this repository, it comprises separate registers for every sense. The perceptual registers only receive the stimuli and store them in poor memory without processing them. The recorders are sometimes referred to as "buffers" by Atkinson and Shiffrin because they prevent large volumes of data from overpowering more complex thinking patterns. To avoid quick degradation and forgetting, data can only be stored in poor memory while it is focused on.

The visual program's iconic memory has received the most study of the sense registries. Using a tachistoscope, scientists established experimentally that the visual cortex has sensory storage facilities distinct from those used for working memory. We can only retain iconic images in our visual memory. Therefore, there is no upper limit on the quantity of visual information that may be stored in the memory system at any moment, provided that the stimulation has reached the field of view. Unfortunately, due to the limitations of sensory registers, iconic memory can only store data about visual stimuli, including shape, size, color, and position. Due to the constraints of the greater processes, not all information stored in sensory may be communicated. Some researchers have hypothesized that our ability to briefly halt our visual processing of information aids in choosing which details to commit to good memory.

Poor Memory: Multi-Store Model of Memory

The data held in poor memory, like that stored in sensory memory, eventually fades and is forgotten. However, the data in poor memory has a longer lifespan when the knowledge is not actively repeated. Rehearsal, as described by Atkinson as well as Shiffrin, allows for the knowledge to be stored in quick storage for a much longer period. Regarding auditory data, "practice session" may be regarded at face value: things must be repeated repeatedly. Nevertheless, the phrase may be used for any knowledge focused on, for example, when a mental picture is consciously kept in one's head. Last, data stored in short-term memory need not belong to the same modalities as the sensory information. Visually-input text, for instance, may be stored and processed as auditorily-recorded data and vice versa. To this theory, data may be more securely preserved in the long-term memory with repeated exposure to it. While Atkinson and Shiffrin spent much time discussing this for visual and auditory data, they focused less on the guided practice of other senses because of the methodological challenges associated with researching other senses.


One of its strongest points is the multi-store model's ability to shed light on the STM's inner workings. As a result, scientists will be able to build upon this theory, which is a positive thing. Scientists may test and refine the picture to explain how the storage functions. Since the paradigm has spawned so much study of recollection, it may rightly be called influential. Numerous memory studies back up the idea that STM is separate from LTM. The approach may accommodate both priority and recency biases.

Updated on: 14-Dec-2022


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